Filmmaker Designs Platform That Can Help People With Disabilities See How Accessible Places Are


Jason DaSilva was working as a filmmaker, producing feature-length documentaries and short films, when he got his first iPhone in 2007.

Now, he is putting his skills towards a web development project designed to help people with limited mobility.

DaSilva, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, often had trouble getting into locations situated up a flight of stairs. He wondered why information on a location’s accessibility wasn’t readily available online.

“I saw the potential for this to change the world in a really big way,” DaSilva said. Thus, AXS Map was born.

AXS Map (pronounced “access map”) is a platform, available for the web as well as virtual reality systems Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, that allows users to log accessibility details and virtually visit a space prior to physically arriving.

“Being able to see a place before you get there is huge!” DaSilva told The Mighty in an email. He said that his platform can also help users preview their route before leaving home, which is useful for everyone — not just for those with mobility impairments.

“With VR AXS Map, [users] can reenact this over and over, relieving them of any stress and getting them to practice until [the trip] is ready to become reality,” DaSilva said.

The VR iteration of AXS Map recently won the Audience Choice Award at a Demo Day sponsored by the Made in New York Media Center and the Independent Filmmaker Project.

DaSilva’s collaborator, developer Loren Abdulezer, told Filmmaker magazine after the Demo Day that the project’s organizers are seeking $250,000 — which would cover increased staffing and a software upgrade — for its next round of funding.

“We’ve got some very interesting technology and capabilities, and when you marry that to important ideas you can do extraordinary things,” Abdulezer told the magazine. “What was great about the [Demo Day] presentation is that everybody in the room ‘got it’ — they saw the significance and potential of what VR AXS Map can do.”

Since its launch in 2009, AXS Map has helped an estimated 20,000 users log reviews for 100,000 locations in 170 cities. DaSilva believes that’s just the beginning. He said feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive, and hopes the platform will inform public policy and accessibility laws.

Related to Disability

A Maryland Teacher Had Toy Cars Repurposed as Mobility Devices for Her Students With Disabilities

A Maryland teacher is giving her students a mobility device they will never forget – a car. B.A. List is a teacher at Rock Creek School in Frederick, MD, which serves local students with severe disabilities. Her students, ages 3 and 4, are nonverbal and have an array of physical and cognitive disabilities. List and her colleagues constantly [...]
pope francis with girl with down syndrome

Pope Francis Says Perfect Body 'Obsession' Leads to Discrimination of Disabled People

On Sunday, in a mass dedicated to disabled people and their caregivers, Pope Francis said society’s “obsession” with perfect bodies has led to the shunning and hiding away of people with disabilities, according to The Associated Press. “It is thought that sick or disabled persons cannot be happy, since they cannot live the lifestyle held [...]
family traveling on a hike

A Cross-Country Vacation With Our Son With Complex Disabilities

At home, we’re used to it. We grow blind to the house full of equipment that makes daily life possible. We settle in to the well-oiled routine that makes things, if not easy, well, manageable. On vacation, all that is stripped away, and we come back down to earth with a bump. It’s the simple things that [...]
Donald Trump is pictured next to an image of Chris Glaros, who appears in an anti-Trump ad.

New TV Ad Targets Trump's Treatment of Disability

A new political ad airing on TV in battleground states is taking aim at presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s treatment of people with disabilities. The 60-second spot is being aired by Priorities USA Action, a political action committee that endorses Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and features Chris and Lauren Glaros, a couple whose daughter [...]