Accessibility is a key element for social inclusion and independent living, as an accessible environment allows everyone to move freely and independently. This is even more evident in urban areas, where the complexity is further enhanced by the blending of architecture, facility, and services built in different periods. As stated by the European Disability Forum, « an accessible environment is simply a better environment for all persons, whether they have a disability or not » and this vision is fully shared by Map4Accessibility Partnership. Map4Accessibility (M4A) project finds its origin in a blending of social inclusion, disability accessibility, civic engagement and ICT-enabled solutions. Its objective is to foster Higher Educational Institution (HEI) service learning through the implementation of various activities for community accessibility mapping and the improvement the physical and digital accessibility of cities. Coordinated by the TUSCIA Viterbo University, the project enjoys a very committed partnership composed of universities, research centers, and NGOs (ARFIE, University of Catania, South-West University, ESCP Europe, Associação Salvador, Europroject ODD) who is engaged in the co-creation of a pan-European accessibility mapping tool highlighting both digital and physical accessibility at the urban level. To do so, the project is organized around five work packages distributed in terms of leadership and participation on a competence basis, meant to produce 5 Project Results:
- PR1: MAP4ACCESSIBILITY SERVICE-LEARNING AND COMMUNITY MAPPING METHODOLOGY aimed at outlining the service learning and community mapping methodology to be applied within the project.
- PR2: MAP4ACCESSIBILITY GUIDE ON INCLUSIVE DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY: an open access guide on web accessibility based on project partner’s experience in web and app accessibility.
- PR3: MAP4ACCESSIBILITY MAPPING WEBSITE AND PROGRESSIVE WEB APP (PWA): based on the app +Acesso para Todos, an accessibility mapping website and app will be adapted, codesigned and co-developed through service-learning activities with HEI students. The mapping tools, embedding Universal Design Principles, will aim to provide accessibility information at the city level.
- PR4: APPLICATIONS OF SERVICE-LEARNING HANDBOOK: AN INNOVATIVE PEDAGOGICAL APPROACH TO ENGAGE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS FOR ACCESSIBILITY AND INCLUSIVITY: a best practice guide on how to implement service learning as a pedagogical methodology in educational institutions (not limited to HEIs).
- PR5: OPEN ACCESS BOOK – MAP4ACCESSIBILITY – CO-DESIGN FOR ACCESSIBLE INSTITUTIONS AND CITIES: The final project result will be a digital open-access book including aspect related to: – identification of legally binding accessibility standards for buildings and within the city, – proposal of accessibility standards in the built environment which go beyond the legal norms, – proposal for urban planning on how to make key urban features more accessible, – best practices for digital accessibility.
The project has concluded its first year of implementation and it’s showing already important results. During this year the partnership was able to organize explorative walks in the countries involved to identify barriers and discuss solutions. The first Result has been also published and the partnership is working on the Guide On Inclusive Digital Accessibility (PR2) and Mapping Website and Progressive Web App (PR3)… the next two year appear to be promising, stay tuned to know more!