27 November 2018

Let's get out and about with Getaboutable this International Day of People with Disability

| Rebecca Vassarotti MLA
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Co-founders of getaboutable Yasmine Gray, Andrew Vassili and Steven Diep. Photo: Supplied.

Co-founders of getaboutable Yasmine Gray, Andrew Vassili and Steven Diep. Photo: Supplied.

I am passionate about travel. I believe it is a great way to learn, meet new people and experience different ways of seeing the world. I also believe it’s important to be out and about in our own community. We have great opportunities in Canberra to be engaged. Here there are lots of community events, a rich cultural life and a busy calendar of events.

We can take our ability to be part of these events for granted. However, one in five of us throughout the community have a mobility, vision, hearing or other assistance need. This means for many people, the decision to go to an event or activity requires a high level of planning. Simple things such as the accessibility of bathrooms, the width of doors, whether there are lifts or accessibility features at attractions and tours can make the difference between whether or not a person can attend. This information is not as easy to find as you might think. There is a large proportion of our community who struggle to find good information about the accessibility of businesses or identify the businesses and companies that think about accessibility for all their customers.

It doesn’t have to be this way, especially in 2018. We are living in an information revolution which means that we should be able to find good information and should be able to connect with a global community who knows where to find inclusive businesses and welcoming spaces. This is not going to happen, however, without people working to connect people with businesses that are committed to ensuring they are accessible and inclusive. And that is where getaboutable.com comes in.

A Canberra-based social enterprise, getaboutable.com is the brainchild of local woman Yasmine Gray. She became increasingly frustrated with her own experiences of finding reliable information to support her as she travelled – around the corner, across the country, and across the globe. This led her to create getaboutable in 2016. In mid-2018, she connected with Andrew Vassili and Steven Diep, who signed on as co-founders. These young tech entrepreneurs have co-founded a Canberra-based creative digital consultancy Simplfi. Together, the team is working to improve getaboutable.com to create a better user experience.

Getaboutable.com is an internet-based platform that aims to collect and share information about accessible travel and leisure activities. It aims to give people with disabilities the confidence to get out and about. People can browse the map, search by a keyword or category to find accessible venues and activities all over the world.

Using crowd-sourced information, getaboutable recently hit 1500 listings and is about to launch a new website that is easier to navigate. Information is sourced by the getaboutable community – people who have found great inclusive businesses and accessible travel and leisure opportunities. It also provides the opportunity for people to rate and review their travel experiences from an accessibility perspective. In addition, it provides businesses with a platform to profile their accessibility features. We hope that businesses realise that this can be an edge in relation to promoting their services to a broader group in the community.

Every year, on 3 December, the international community commemorates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. On this day, communities around the world are encouraged to increase their awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities. In addition, this day provides an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disabilities. The theme this year is empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. Getaboutable is a great example of an enterprise that is working both to empower people and create a more inclusive community.

I am really proud to be involved in getaboutable, an organisation that was recognised in 2017 with a Chief Minister’s Inclusion Award for Innovation in Design. I think it is a great example of how we can work to make Canberra a welcoming and inclusive community. It’s also a way to support people with mobility and accessibility issues to explore their city and their world.

What are your experiences of businesses that have been welcoming and inclusive of the whole community, and worked to improve their accessibility?

Rebecca is the chair of getaboutable.com’s advisory committee.

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