There is a new web service that should be of particular interest to every business owner with a physical store front: Wheelmap.org. This website (and iOS App) allows users from around the world to find a store that they have visited and rate its ease of access for people with wheelchairs and other mobility aids, such as canes and walkers. Users can rate a location using color-coded flags which indicate the site’s mobility-friendliness: green for “wheelchair accessible”, yellow for “partial wheelchair accessible” and grey for “not wheelchair accessible”. Using this service, a potential customer can get an idea of what to expect when they reach their destination, and store owners can get an idea of how they stack up. The web site is available in six different languages: German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Japanese (the web site’s default language is German; there is a drop-down language selection list in the top-right corner of the page).
While this news does not necessarily relate specifically to gaming, it did cause me to pause and think for a moment: how accessible are my local gaming stores? Truth be told, most gaming stores are relatively small establishments that often have to make do with what building they can afford to rent, and many of them are not particularly wheelchair-friendly. I have been in to many a game store whose isles are tightly packed, with books and board games crammed in to any corner they can find, and the game tables are clustered together as tightly as can be managed. This isn’t necessarily any fault of the owner’s own, but it definitely doesn’t promote accessibility in the gaming community.
With that in mind, I would like to give a nod to the Portland, Oregon metro area game store known as Rainy Day Games (click here to visit Rainy Day Games’ website). Upon my first visit, I noticed that the store had nicely spaced isles with plenty of room to maneuver. It struck me as being the type of store I would like to own: big, brightly lit, with merchandise having its own place a safe distance away from other products, so there is plenty of room to walk (or wheel) around. The gaming tables are a little crammed, but since they’re in the back corner of the store they don’t get in the way of the rest of the shopping experience.
Wheelmap.org is a great service that I hope people will continue to use; the more people use it, the better and more accurate the results will be.
Thanks to CNet.com for the heads up.