Coventry has always been seen as a city of innovation and its reputation has been further enhanced by being chosen to pilot a brand new service for people with disabilities.
The ‘assist-Mi’ app has been trialled for the past few months in the city and hopes to bring improved accessibility to many of Coventry’s service providers, retailers, offices and public services.
It is currently available at over 42 service providers in the Coventry area and the team behind it are urging more organisations to get on board.
How does assist-Mi work?
Well, it is a phone app that offers assistance and reassurance for disabled users on the go and it gives them the choice of greater independence when trying to access everyday goods and services.
You might have seen in the local press recently, the story of a Coventry University student whose birthday meal was ruined when staff at a local restaurant said her guide dog would not be allowed inside the premises.
Holly Scott-Gardner, 22, criticised the ‘ridiculous and disrespectful’ decision by staff who said her guide dog could not come in with her and told her that she needed to be tied up outside.
Although the restaurant owner later apologised for the confusion and has since embarked on a training programme for the workforce, if they had downloaded the assist-Mi app, this situation could have been avoided. Hopefully, it will not happen again in future.
Speaking at an awareness event at The Hub recently, Dominic Hyams, Digital & Communications Director at assist-Mi, said:
“This was a very unfortunate incident but sadly, it is not an isolated one. We hear countless stories from people with disabilities about the difficulties they face on a daily basis when trying to go about their everyday lives.
“We wanted to trial the assist-Mi app in Coventry to enable it to become the most accessible city in the country for people with disabilities.”
The assist-Mi app enables people to communicate their specific needs before arriving at a wide range of destinations in the city and so far, it has been used by thousands of service users and more providers are signing up all the time.
The list of establishments and organisations that are using the app range from civic offices to shops and banks and now Coventry University!
The assist-Mi scheme has also received the backing of both Coventry City Council and Citizens Advice, and a partnership with taxi app Gett enables disabled users in Coventry to order accessible licensed taxis as well.
The organisations that have signed up to the app can follow their customer’s arrival and ensure that everything they need is already in place when they turn up.
Gary McFarlane is assist-Mi’s co-founder. He told listeners to the Brody Swain show on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire all about the app and also about the reception it received from staff and students:
“We had a warm welcome when we came to promote assist-Mi at Coventry University and it seemed to go down very well indeed. We are looking forward to doing some more promotional and awareness work with them in the future.”
“You can start using assist-Mi now, downloadable on the Apple App Store or Google Play store for android devices.”
Written by Ali Bushnell
Edited by Esmé Spurling