Toyota GB has released a short film that illustrates the day-to-day challenges faced by people with mobility difficulties and illustrates a game-changing app produced by startup company, Sociability, to help them find accessible places.
As part of Toyota’s mission to achieve better mobility for all, it works with innovative startups like Sociability that bring new mobility ideas to the market. Sociability first attracted Toyota’s attention in 2020 when it entered the Toyota Startup Accelerator awards and obtained grant funding enabling it to expand and establish pilot projects all over the country.
The film features the Sociability team on a mapping day in Brighton in which they visit venues such as shops, bars, and restaurants, to gather accessibility information to add to their database and app. They also use these visits to engage with business owners to highlight the benefits of providing greater accessibility. The film can be viewed here: Sociability and Toyota: delivering mobility for all
Sociability was inspired by the first-hand experience of its founder Matt Pierri, who uses a wheelchair. When starting university, he discovered that finding accessibility information was incredibly hard and meant contacting each location directly. Matt explains: “It was really tiring, really challenging, and really difficult to find any information, let alone information at the level of detail that I needed. One in five people have a disability of some kind. A lot of those disabilities are invisible and actually 80 percent of those disabilities are acquired, so people aren’t born with them – it’s something that happens to them during their lifetime. That’s where Sociability really grew from,” says Matt, “… for this information to allow disabled people to go out and about and do the things they want to do with the people they love.”
In addition to mapping thousands of different businesses and venues, Sociability has also worked with Toyota to consider how to make its centres, workshops and offices accessible and welcoming for visitors with mobility issues. It has also worked with KINTO, Toyota’s mobility brand in Derby, thinking about how to improve accessible transport, providing information to DerbyGo (by Kinto), an app-based service that helps the staff and students from Derby College and the University of Derby to plan and take journeys in the area. Sociability is also working with the Toyota Mobility Foundation to take the lessons learned in Derby and scale them across cities, events and organisations around the world.
For the future, Matt and the Sociability team will continue to drive forwards the availability of accessibility information to empower all people as they move from place to place and experience different spaces: ”What we’re really trying to do at Sociability is give people back that peace of mind so they can go out and do the things they want to, comfortably and confidently,” comments Matt.