Helping Centre Philou with Accessibility

Here at Plank, we have fully embraced the Hack Day – we’re giving it a big ol’ bear hug, actually.

A Hack Day is a focussed day of collaboration on a digital project. It’s something we’ve been doing annually for a while now as a fun, problem-solving activity for our team.

Earlier this year, we decided to open up our process to the cultural community, and embarked on a great pilot project with Repercussion Theatre. We loved the experience so much, we decided to do it again – this time extending the invitation to the health and wellness community.

Centre Philou

We got some great submissions, and our team chose to help out Montreal’s Centre Philou, a non-profit organization providing support and services for severely handicapped children and their

The Challenge

The team at Centre Philou had put together a downloadable guide to different activities in Montreal that were suitable for children
with physical and intellectual disabilities, and they wanted our help to develop it into a web app. Knowing that there already exist a few different map-based apps that deal with physical accessibility, they wanted to add a level of more nuanced information.
For example, while some buildings may be functionally accessible to wheelchairs, once inside, certain specific limitations may be found. Their guide also commented on the level of stimulation of activities for children with different intellectual abilities,
and how welcoming the staff were towards people with severe physical and intellectual limitations.

What We Did

Given the time limitations, we focused on a few core functions:

  • Rating system based on level of intellectual/physical ability
  • Mobile-responsive site that can be viewed on any device
  • Putting the guide listings on a map, using Google Maps
  • Included a Laravel Content Management System (CMS) using work from previous projects

The result is a simple, responsive page showing the available locations pinned on a map. When the user selects one of the pins, the related content from Centre Philou’s guide appears on the page. The CMS will allow the Centre Philou to continue adding
locations to the map as they develop further content.

If We Had More Time…

We focussed our day on establishing a base that could be built on down the road. Some of the functions we’d like to see added are:

  • Ability to search and filter by type of activity, level of ability, season, etc
  • Create a form for users to submit completely new locations
  • Create a form for users to upload comments or updates
  • Aggregate feedback and usefulness ratings to improve the listings over time
  • Ability to filter by “completeness” of description (i.e. vetted by Centre Philou)
  • Geo-location (with user permission) to show nearby accessible locations on the map

The app still needs some development before it becomes a useful tool for the public. We presented our work to our partners at the Centre Philou, and they were excited to see their idea beginning to take shape. They now have a solid starting point from
which they can advance their project.

“The idea was to improve the daily life of not only disabled people but also their friends and families by responding to their accessibility needs. The outstanding feature of this app is that it will take into account the adaptability level of the sites
in order to allow handicapped people to make the most out of their visits. “

– Diane Chênevert, Executive Director, Centre Philou

Plank would like to thank the Centre Philou for challenging us and participating in our Hack Day! We hope our work will help the Centre Philou continue to provide outstanding service and support to the community.

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