Since one of the reasons why I decided to create Move@bility is to raise awareness towards the need to remove architectonical barriers, not only to the advantage of people with any disability, but of the community as a whole, I’m very happy to have the chance to share with you initiatives with this goal. I’m even happier in this case, because I have the chance to chat with a woman who’s a friend of mine in the real life as well: Francesca Moscardo, who I meet today as a representative of the team that created Goover, a new app created to signal architectonical barriers and accessible places, to make it easier for everyone to move around our cities.
– Hi Francesca, would you like to introduce yourself to Move@bility readers?
Yes, indeed! I’m 31 and live in Verona, a city that I love. I was born with diastrophic dysplasia, a type of dwarfism that, in addition to several bone malformations, donated to me a very short height: indeed, I use to say that I’m pocket-sized! In daily life, my disability is very particular, since I suffer both the inconvenience of who moves using a wheelchair (I can walk, but on long distances I use it) and those of very very short people, as children who are unable to reach the wc, the sink, the lift buttons or to open a door… I graduated in Art, but life led me to begin writing and I currently cooperate with a communications agency as a copywriter. Summing up my passion for storytelling – with a very ironic style, people say- and my a little bit borderline disability, in 2017 I created “Nanabianca Blog. Il mondo a un metro d’altezza” (“Whitedwarf Blog. The world from 1 meter height“): a blog where I talk about Verona and my journeys, always with a particular focus on accessibility information, but I also share the solutions I’ve found in my daily life that could be useful to someone else facing similar problems (about clothes, personal care, cooking, planning a trip, etc.). I try to share ideas, sparks that other people can adapt to their own lives. This year, my blog gave me the chance to meet the Goover team: they asked me to become an effective member of this project, taking the responsibility of its blog (that’s starting in these days). To me, mobility is a fundamental part of a disabled person’s life: getting a driver licence in 2015 and being able to move freely on my adapted car, donated me a bunch of opportunities and experiences that I couldn’t have imagined before. The Goover app, under a different perspective, aims to give freedom of movement to people with motoric issues, pointing out and avoiding architectonical barriers in a given path: this goal is totally aligned with my vision, then I couldn’t help to accept their offer!
– How did the idea of Goover arise?
The idea arose during an hackathon the team – that would have created Goover – participated in October 2017 in Turin, about mobility in the city. Paolo Bottiglieri, the CEO, had a professional background in disability and, together with Marco Coluccio and Matteo Sipione, was willing to find a way to improve urban movements. Quite by chance, they saw a guy on a wheelchair who had to change his route due to a step: that was the starting point.
– What’s this app distinctive point, compared with the others?
Before starting with its development, the team conducted a competitive study to understand what the market already offered, what competitors were doing and how. Then, they found that all the others offer just a few features and, sometimes, the apps haven’t been updated for 6 or 7 years. Goover aims to be an app that sums all the features on a single platform (avoiding the kangaroo-effect from an app to another) and guides the user on barrier-free itineraries.
– The apps aiming to point out architectonical barriers usually only take into account just one kind of disability: the motoric one and, specifically, the disabilities implying the usage of a wheelchair to move. But, as we well know, there are many disabilities, even when we only look at motoric limitations. Just to give an example, who walks using crutches has different needs from who uses a wheelchair and, then, also architectonical barriers ar seen in a different way. Will Goover help who has different needs too?
The goal is being able to diffentiate itineraries based on the specific disability or experience of the user on a wheelchair. Thanks to our first mapping, we noticed that there are obstacles that, for some people, aren’t so and that’s why we’ll add also the difficulty level on itineraries.
– Great! Based on your personale experience, what is still lacking to be really able to “think accessible”, when designing urban spaces, public buildings, etc.?
First of all, I think that there’s a lack of capability to step in the shoes of people whose needs are different from ours, whoever they are; second, there’s a lack of open-mindedness and will to go beyond norms as regards design, to create an environment that is really suitable for as many people as possible (not only those on a wheelchair, who, in the collective imagination, represent the standard disability) and doesn’t just comply with laws, even when they are outdated. Finally, there’s no awareness towards the fact that, if a place is accessible to someone with a disability, it will be suitable for everyone too. Maybe this is the most common concept, but also the hardest for designers to internalize.
– I couldn’t agree more! Can you share some heads up about the future of Goover with us? What do we have to expect for 2019?
We can say that, nowe, we’re working hard to start having stable versions of the app both on Android and iOS: the app is currently in the beta testing phase. In 2019, we’ll focus on strengthening the link among accessible venues, most of all cafés and restaurants. In the future, we’d like to give the chance to book hotels and rooms certified as accessible directly from the Goover website, minimizing the risk of nasty surprises, as it often happens nowadays. The case that got stuck in my mind is that of Giulia, who booked a room from a well-known platform and, once she got there, even though the venue was certified as fully accessible, discovered that there were three steps in front of the lift that was supposed to allow her to reach her room. The Goover site aims to eliminate situations like this one.
Thanks, Francesca, and good luck to you and the whole Goover team! 🙂