Published: 2017-10-19 01:26
Last Updated: 2017-10-19 11:08
Have you ever wondered how to find places in Jordan that are accessible to people with disabilities? Aya Aghabi did, and she decided to do just that by launching Accessible Jordan, a site where she documents accessible spots in the Kingdom.
After a car accident in 2009, Aya was left with a spinal cord injury leaving her unable to walk.
A self-described outgoing and adventurous person, Aya expressed disappointment at the difficulty of leaving her house and finding wheelchair-accessible places she could visit.
“Before, not a lot of places followed the laws and regulations when it came to ramps and making buildings accessible, so every time I wanted to go out I was limited to three or four places,” Aya told Roya.
“Then I went to the States and every place was accessible. Anytime I wanted to make sure if a place was accessible, I would go online and find all the information. If it’s not accessible, you don’t have to go there and check,” she said.
When Aya returned to Amman, she felt it was difficult to find accessible places in comparison. Determined, she went online to find pictures of places she planned to visit, calling them to ask if they were wheelchair-accessible, and often having to explain what that meant.
“I started getting frustrated,” Aya said. “I saw that there were many people around who were having the same problem, not necessarily people who use wheelchairs. What if they had children with strollers? Or if they broke their legs. What if they’re elderly?”
That was when Aya considered starting a database to make it easier to find accessible places in Amman.
Aya’s boss had encouraged her to turn this idea into a website, after he approached her asking for a list of places he could take a friend of his who also uses a wheelchair.
She mentioned a local Jordanian blogger, Lana Bataineh, who has been living with ALS for 11 years. “I remember a blog post Lana wrote about how happy she was because she could go to the cinema because it was the one accessible place she could find.”
“There are so many more places that people don’t know about, so I just started the website to make it easier,” Aya said.
She believes that having a comprehensive guide to Jordan’s accessible places will encourage more tourists with disabilities to visit the Kingdom.
Aya’s website, Accessible Jordan, aims to compile a list of of places accessible to people with disabilities, including tourist spots in Jordanian cities, based on locations she had already visited before.
The initiative has support from Prince Mired bin Ra’ad, Head of the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities. Aya works with the prince on the council, and he is a staunch advocate for the rights of people with disabilities.
Aya intends to share blog posts about different topics to talk about her experiences visiting some of the sites, and suggestions about how things could improve.
The aim is to eventually launch the website in Arabic as well, making it more accessible to a wider audience, as well as having a streamlined phone app in the future to suit the needs of its individual users.
Aya said that people have contacted her, offering to give her new places of which they know to add to her database.
Restaurants have even contacted her and told her that they were building ramps, less than two weeks after the website’s launch.
Aya is hopeful about the future of accessibility in Jordan, especially with the passing of the new Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for 2017, which cites that buildings, public and private, as well as tourist locations, must provide accessibility to people with disabilities.
Buildings that fail to provide accessibility will not be licensed.