Madonna Long and Joanne Peterson are the founders of 360-Access. An auto accident rendered Joanne less than fully mobile. After learning to walk again, she used canes and crutches to get around and have recently added a scooter and oxygen to her devices. When Madonna was 18 years old, her High School bus was returning from a skiing trip from Utah back to Wyoming. On its way down the mountain in Utah, the brakes failed. Her best friend died in that accident and she was left paralyzed from the waist down.
When Joanne plans trips or attempt to take people out for a meal, she first makes calls to verify information about the facilities, which is time consuming and not always helpful or accurate. On one of her recent trips to Pittsburgh, she arranged a lunch for Madonna, and three others. The place boasted of valet parking but on arrival, there was no valet or convenient parking at lunch time. They were scheduled to be next door to attend a conference but the side doors of the building were locked and they had to navigate their way to the front of the building to gain entrance, which was yet another barrier as covering distances was an issue.
Madonna’s many years of navigating accessibility throughout Wyoming, Nevada and the places she lived proved difficult. She found there was a 30 to 50 percent chance that places were accessible or a restroom or restaurant was free of barriers. It really was apparent to them that a system to map accessibility was definitely needed.
Joanne and Madonna first met at a networking event. During a conversation, Madonna casually mentioned that Visit Pittsburgh once asked her whether it will be possible to show which of their member companies were accessible. She said her response to them was “no, because it would take technology and a database” to get that done. Joanne however explained it would be relatively easy for her to do because her day job involved developing systems that report on legislative or regulatory compliance!
The 360-Access project was started soon after, with two other contributors Amy Malmgren and Andrew Neilson. Sadly, they both passed away in 2018 when they the project was about 90% complete. Losing these two key contributors caused them to regroup and pivot, ultimately going live with 360-Access on July 26th in celebration of the ADA turning 30.
Madonna & Joanne spoke with Mélange about 360-Access
How does the 360-Access tool promote universal accessibility?
(1) It will attract attention to the size of our community our discretionary buying power; who wouldn’t want us as loyal customers?
(2) It gives us a reliable tool to find places that are accessible based on our needs, because there is no one disability. There is no magic fix, tell us what you have so we can decide if it works for us.
(3) It will educate corporations and small businesses on what accessible means and why it is important
- Bringing in sales
- Bringing in job applicants
- Informing their constituents how to navigate their facilities
(4) Directly connect PWD consumers with the businesses that want to market to them in a safe and effective way.
(5) Give businesses a connection to share events, opportunities and special offers with the disability community and show ROI for their ADA compliance
- There’s a potential tax break to companies to map and advertise (https://blog.360-access.com/ada-tax-credits/)
How does 360-Access work and how are the participation fees structured?
There are no fees to use the information. People with disabilities and others don’t need to create an account to search. If they want to write reviews or receive special offers, they can create a free registered user account.
Business and non-profits have annual licenses and a percentage of every sale is donated to disability support organization partners:
Non-profits can register their first facility for free, $29 for each additional site
Small businesses register for $49 (up to 10 licenses)
Large businesses register for $149. We negotiate discounts with large businesses that want to purchase multiple licenses (e.g. retail, restaurant, banking, hotel chains)
Can this be implemented by any business anywhere in the world?
Now, only for businesses in the United States but this Fall international businesses will be able to use it.
In how many languages is 360-Access available?
This is a good question and not one I can answer at the moment. Because this is 100% self-funded, additional languages will have to wait until we have cash flow
How are the differences between the US’ Americans with Disabilities Act and the accessibility requirements of countries outside of the US addressed?
It has taken us 2 years to quantify ADA-based questions into understandable questions that have a yes or no answer. I would love to incorporate guidelines from other countries, and we can begin doing so in 2021.
How does 360-Access screen reviews before they are posted, to ensure potential controversial language or issues are removed?
We trust, but verify. The goal is to hire local and regional people with disabilities to verify. I think there is a stark difference between corporations with facility managers who design for inclusivity and a harried pizza shop owner who just says yes without checking. Plus, the pizza owner is likely to be a renter without the clout to change the physical space.
About the accessibility features of the 360-Access. Can anyone use it?
Anyone can use the application.
There will be a downloadable version of the registered user portal and search feature this Fall.
The application service is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accessibility standards, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. Section 794(d)). We’re also compliant with WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 (backwards compatible to 2.0) at the Level AA accessibility standards.
What happens when a customer/patron arrives at a place of business or destination and they find the desired destination does not meet the accessibility standards it claims to?
The patron/customer reports it to us and we would remove those items from the business’ profile. And, we call them to try to understand if there was confusion in the way the question was asked – to see if it was intentional. If appears intentional, we remove the business location.
What does the future hold for 360 Access? Any cool new features we can expect to see?
First, we need businesses to sign up!!
Goal for Phase 2 – SMS messaging and emergency services. Right now there is no way to know where the nearest accessible shelter might be in case of flooding or a tornado, or whatever. We would like to be able to allow government agencies and non-profits communicate through our portal to PWDs, sort of like an Amber-alert. Never giving their contact information to these institutions but making it possible for them to communicate critical information to us.
How does one contact you to purchase 360 Access for their business?
On our website: www.360-access.com. Click on MAP NOW or SIGN UP TO MAP MY FACILITY
By email to firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 1-412-271-5922 || (800-544-1210 in the US)
How does one sign up to use 360-Access?
On our website: www.360-access.com. Click on BECOME A REGISTERED USER
By email to email@example.com