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Lacey Tompkins: All AXS Interview

What is AXS Map/AXS Map NYC

Powered by Google Maps, AXS (“access”) Map is an online crowdsourcing platform that allows users to share reviews on the accessibility of venues. As AXS Map terms it, think of it as a Yelp for people with disabilities. Anyone can access the platform and share their reviews for free, and the more ratings added, the more accurate and useful the platform becomes.

AXS Map NYC is a two-part initiative. Firstly, it is an advocacy campaign to raise awareness about the multifaceted concept of accessibility, as well as AXS Map as a resource. Secondly and more tangibly, it is an online pledge that asks individuals to promise to review 15 locations in New York City. With this promise, the goal of the pledge is to build a comprehensive access map of NYC and make it an accurate and useful resource for accessibility information.

How did you get involved in AXS Map? Please tell us a little about what the Athena Scholars Program and the Social Action Project are.

The Athena Scholars Program is an interdisciplinary program that prepares Barnard women to assume positions of leadership. During her senior year, each student develops a social action project that works to solve a social problem. As a wheelchair user, the lack of information regarding venue accessibility has always been a personally significant issue for me. Sites like Yelp or MenuPages, though having “wheelchair accessible” as a category listing, are often inaccurate, and more importantly are just not comprehensive enough. For example, a restaurant may not have stairs, but often may have one step or a curb-like lip to the entrance. Some individuals in a manual chair or with a walker may be able to enter; I, however, cannot.

While doing research, I read an article on Jason DaSilva, the founder of AXS Map, and knew this initiative was something I wanted to be a part of. AXS Map is addressing a critical issue that affects individuals with a range of disabilities and mobility limitations, as well as their friends and family.

What stage of development is the project in currently, and what do you hope to achieve?

AXS Map has generated a lot of traction and is on the way to becoming an abundant resource; however, the utility and success of the platform depends on the public. AXS Map needs everyone to get involved! With AXS Map NYC, I hope to begin with New York, my rolling grounds, and really generate enough participation so that most venues have reviews. The goal moreover is not just for NYC, but also that awareness for AXS Map will further spread to other cities and allow everyone to easily make decisions on where to spend their time.

In your experience, how many stars would Barnard and Columbia’s campuses earn for accessibility?

What’s key to the AXS Map is that it acknowledges that the definition of accessibility is multifaceted; there are many aspects to consider. For me, for example, doors are a detail of importance. Some rooms, don’t have door openers and personally are too heavy for me to open myself. Further, are they wide enough? But overall, I can certainly get to wherever I need and want to go on campus and if not through the main way in, there’s often an alternative entrance; I’d give it a 4/5 for entry.

How can Barnard Collegiettes [HerCampus readers] help promote your project and AXS Map?

Sign the pledge (http://bit.ly/AXSMapNYC) and start reviewing on AXS Map (http://www.axsmap.com)! The pledge asks users to rate at least 15 locations, which really is very easy. Just think: where have you gone to dinner recently? Where do you get your morning coffee on your way to class each day? Rate these locations! There’s no wrong answer. It’s about your opinion.

What have you learned in collaborating with AXS Map and developing your senior project? 

I’d say one of the main things I’ve come to see in discovering and working with Jason and AXS Map is that the lack of accessibility information really is a social issue. I’ve always recognized this topic as a personal obstacle and topic to consider in making daily plans, but Jason’s initiative exemplifies this issue as one not only for people with disabilities, but all individuals in their lives as well. For example, often friends will try and check online about specific venues if we have plans; however, they’re often given incorrect information. If you’re passionate about something, voice it! Others most likely are as well.

What do you want participants to take away from your campaign? 

Two main things. The first being overall awareness of accessibility and the fact that it’s a complex concept. Something being accessible for one individual, may not be for another, and it’s important to recognize that – this is why AXS Map and its crowdsourcing foundation is so critical. Secondly, whether or not you require some form of accessibility, your role in AXS Map is essential. AXS Map (and AXS Map NYC) needs your perspective; even if you’re unsure exactly of what accessibility means, you can play a role in creating an access map of NYC (as well as other cities)!

Sign the pledge! http://bit.ly/AXSMapNYC

Watch the video and learn how to rate! http://bit.ly/1f3XtLM  

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Alexandra Shapiro

Columbia Barnard

Alexandra is a Senior at Barnard majoring in American Studies. While she isn't planning the week's pitches for Her Campus Barnard, she can be found checking her horoscope, listening to college acapella videos, decorating her room with Paris-themed accessories, or trying to imitate Charlotte from Sex and the City. She also loves self-improvement, Indian food, the Kennedys, traveling, and laughing at her brother and sister's jokes. She is spending this semester interning in MTV's Marketing department.
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