Improving accessibility through tech.

For people with disabilities, the fact that cities can be congested, fast-paced and full of obstacles makes them ever harder to navigate.

Making a significant case for city accessibility to start using smart solutions and assistive tech. is a 2017 survey which found that adults who have difficulties with mobility took 39% fewer trips than those without.

Despite the inevitable hold-ups caused by the pandemic, progress is ongoing. As stairs can be a significant hurdle for wheelchair users, Scewo, a young company has developed the Scewco Bro, a smartphone-controlled wheelchair which has rubber tracks that can climb, with stairs being just one of the range of terrains it can tackle.

MyoSwiss is a Zurich-based company which has developed, using a combination of textiles and robotics, an exomuscle suit that weighs less than 5kg. By using sensors at the knee and hip, it detects movements the user wants to make and supports accordingly. It is designed to add a layer of muscle, supporting movements and providing stability for people who can walk to some extent.

The WeWalk smart stick for visually-impaired and blind people has an ultrasonic sensor that detects obstacles above chest level and uses vibrations to warn the user. By pairing with a smartphone, it can also help navigation and has voice-assisted integration to Google Maps. Using the WeWalk app provides information regarding transit options, navigation to stops and timetables.

However, the unfortunate drawback of high-tech solutions that help making cities easier for people with disabilities to navigate is cost as this tech may well be prohibitively expensive for many people.