By Michael Fleischer

They’re here and they’re not going away. Six weeks ago we blogged about AXS Map. Now comes AbleRoad, a much more comprehensive customer review website/mobile app that allows individuals to post online reviews of a business’s accessibility to individuals with disabilities.

AbleRoad, which worked with to allow both Yelp and AbleRoad ratings to be viewed on the same screen, allows users to not only leave comments but to rank a business using a one through five-star rating system.  Unlike AXS Map, AbleRoad’s rating system is based on four main categories: Mobility, Hearing, Sight, and Cognitive.  Further, within each category there are 12 sub-categories (for a total of 48 categories) which allows users to rate businesses on accessibility issues including: Path of Travel, Directional Signage, Captioning on TVs; Braille Information; Guide-Dog/Service Animal access; and whether the business has Knowledgeable and Respectful Staff. 

AbleRoad also has several features that AXS Map lacks, including the ability for users to quickly upload pictures (and video coming soon), provides easy sharing on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and also has voice over screen capabilities for blind or low vision users. AbleRoad also provides a badge system where users can like and rate other reviewers. AbleRoad hopes that a reviewer’s badge level (Rookie to Hall of Fame) will help verify the reviewer as a trusted source for his or her reviews and content.

AbleRoad’s goal is to provide a forum where individuals with disabilities or their families and friends can research and choose businesses they wish to patronize based on accessibility.  Like AXS Map, we expect AbleRoad to be well-received by individuals with disabilities.  If accurate, it should be a very useful tool. 

However, we still have serious concerns for businesses if the reviews provide misinformation. Like with AXS Map, we were unable to find a way on AbleRoad’s website or mobile app for businesses to flag reviews as inappropriate or to respond to reviews that are unfair or inaccurate. Without such a safeguard, these website/mobile apps may become a resource for serial plaintiffs looking for businesses to sue even if those plaintiffs have no genuine desire to patronize the businesses. As with AXS Map, we will follow up with the founder of AbleRoad to discuss these concerns and will keep you posted.

Edited by Minh Vu and Kristina Launey