Tuesday 20 February 2018

Irish college students' app creation 'Access Earth' promises to make the day easier for those with a disability

The 'Access Earth' team with Claire Breathnach (front centre) and Matthew McCann (front right)
The 'Access Earth' team with Claire Breathnach (front centre) and Matthew McCann (front right)
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

You might notice the disability car-parking spaces in your local supermarket, but have you noticed if there is clear access for wheelchair-users or a lift for those who can't walk up the stairs?

A group of Irish college students with a mission have created an innovative app that promises to make the day easier for someone with a physical disability.

'Access Earth' aims to provide information on accessibility everywhere from supermarkets to restaurants and museums to schools worldwide.

Anyone can contribute to the website and rate their experience based on how the location was set up to suit wheelchair users or someone with a physical disability.

Claire Breathnach, who is studying a masters in business management at NUI Maynooth, said she believes the app has longevity.

"We have our five-year plan in place, we understand it'll take time to grow but we are going to stick with 'Access Earth'," she told Independent.ie.

"The team has invested a lot of time in the project and we think it has the potential to be something very big."

There are ten core members working on developing and promoting the project, but 'Access Earth' is the brainchild of 'tech whizz' Matthew McCann.

"Matthew is a wheelchair user and this is something that has impacted his life," Claire said.

"He came up with the idea, he's a tech whizz. He combined his own experience with his technical ability to design this platform.

"Everyone plays a different role on the team, we're all studying different disciplines at Maynooth so everyone helps out in a different way.

"Matthew came to us with the idea so we created a business plan and a revenue model."

The team now plan to bring their idea to the national Enactus competition next month - an organisation that recognises and awards entrepreneurial-based projects that 'empower people'.

The team will present their project and go up against Ireland's other universities on the national stage. The winning social entrepreneurship group will progress to the Enactus World Cup.

The team's idea will be judged on whether it has an economic stream, a social benefit and if it is environmentally friendly. The idea also has to be creative and innovative.

'Access Earth' is free to use on a browser or you can download the project as an app.

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