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Waltham-based company lets people with disabilities rate accessibility of businesses

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  November 6, 2013 01:35 PM

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People with disabilities can now rate the accessibility of restaurants, shops, hotels, and other public places and venues through a new Waltham-based website and smartphone app that launched last week.

AbleRoad, a Waltham-based company, launched a website last week where -- much like the popular review site Yelp.com -- people can rate restaurants and businesses while primarily weighing factors like wheelchair accessibility and ease of access for blind and deaf people.

The company is also working with Yelp so users can see both the Yelp and AbleRoad ratings for a business on the same screen, allowing them to compare the two.

AbleRoad founder Kevin McGuire knows the usefulness of such a service firsthand: at 7 years old, McGuire was hit by a drunk driver while playing baseball in his yard, leaving him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. His parents fought to keep him in public school instead of sending him to a special needs school, and McGuire continued on to graduate from Boston University and the Georgetown University Law Center, according to a company statement.

McGuire also heads up McGuire Associates, a consulting firm specializing in compliance with federal and state disability laws. The firm seeks to make sure public places around the country are accessible to everyone, working with stadiums and other venues to ensure they meet standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

McGuire has worked with organizations like the New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers, Live Nation concert venues, and the White House visitor center to make them accessible to anyone with disabilities.

Citing US Census Bureau data, AbleRoad said that about 20 percent of the US population -- or 57 million people -- have some type of disability, facing problems with mobility, cognition, hearing or seeing. Company officials also said that people with disabilities represent $220 billion dollars in discretionary spending power.

The AbleRoad app is available as a free download for both iOS and Android devices at Apple's App Store and Google Play.

To see the website, visit www.ableroad.com.

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Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownwaltham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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