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Travel

Apps for travelers with disabilities that can help smooth the way

Whatever your disability, try to match the technology to your travel goal, said Patrice Wheeler, an assistive technology specialist at Cal State Northridge’s Disability Resources and Educational Services office.

One app often leads you to others, and that is part of the journey.

“On your wanderings you will find these great apps, but you will also find other people using them so it creates a community of shared knowledge and shared value of traveling together,” said Wheeler. “It’s an educational moment. You become an ambassador for traveling and accessibility.”

Here are some apps that can help.

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For mobility device users, Wheeler likes that “wheelchair access” is an option for navigation in Google Maps (iOS and Android).

Looking for places to go in a particular city? Crowd-sourced apps such as AccessEarth will tell you how a business rates on everything from barrier-free entrances, to wheelchair-height tables and accessible restrooms.

“This is the one app I’ve latched onto. The aesthetic speaks to me and it’s user-friendly,’’ said Alanna Raffel, an occupational therapist from Philadelphia who has rated dozens of businesses in the vibrant downtown area known as Center City District.

“I’m often inviting friends who use wheelchairs out to lunch and finding places are not accessible,” she said. The app helps mitigate some of that frustration.

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Access Earth focuses on physical mobility and reviews are heavily concentrated in Philadelphia and Dublin, Ireland. Updates will soon include information useful to people who have sensory or cognitive disabilities.

It’s hoped that mapping events planned this summer will drive more robust use among people in major U.S. and European cities, said Matt McCann, Access Earth’s founder and chief executive.

“The goal is to be the most accessible accessibility app,” said McCann, who has cerebral palsy.

Aaron Preece of the American Foundation for the Blind suggests these for people with visual impairments:

Indoor navigation using low-energy Bluetooth beacons has also become popular. Some examples of apps using this technology:

Noor Pervez, community engagement coordinator with Autistic Self Advocacy Network, offers this list of apps that addresses a variety of needs.

travel@latimes.com

@latimestravel

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