Sociology class tracks accessibility in various communities using Access Now app

18 Apr 2018

Project aims to help share information, engage discussions about accessibility in local community

Soc_of_DisabilityClass_webMount Allison University students in Dr. Christiana MacDougall’s Sociology of Disability class got to engage in field work while assisting surrounding communities in collecting information around accessibility this semester.

Students worked in groups to document accessibility in Sackville and other locations. Over two weeks, the 51 students independently visited various sites and uploaded their findings to Access Now, a map-based, crowd sourced app. While popular in more urban areas, the class project was the first time the Sackville area had been included in the app.

“The project gave the students an opportunity to see places they visit regularly through a different lens and formally collect data for their project,” says MacDougall. “Many communities, including ours, are working to improve accessibility. Having this information available through an app like Access Now helps with planning and being aware of the limitations of some locations.”

As part of the class, students reviewed different types of disability, including physical, cognitive, and societal.

Marla-Ann Rogers is a fourth-year honours sociology student with a minor in women’s and gender studies. She says the project made her and her classmates address their assumptions on accessibility.

“The first step was simply to address any of our pre-conceived ideas on how accessible or inaccessible each building was. It allowed us to draw upon how aware we were of potential structural barriers that could limit physical access,” she says. “We then began scouring the outside of the building for any potential issues leading into the facility itself. Lastly, we entered the building and searched through as many rooms as possible.”

The Access Now app is available free of charge for Apple and Android devices: http://accessnow.me

Mount Allison students Marla Ann Rogers and Janet Gourley presented on their project for the Sociology of Disability class taught by Dr. Christiana MacDougall this semester.


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