EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — A 23-year-old Wisconsin man with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair is creating an app he hopes will make traveling more accessible for those with disabilities.
Gabriel Schlieve spent several weeks in Swaziland developing the "Rebel Traveler's Guide to the World" app through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Reciprocal Exchange, The Leader-Telegram reported . The program aims to address global and local community challenges.
"We have so many great opportunities and great things to see in this world — no one should miss out on that," Schlieve said. "We shouldn't be told 'Well, you have cerebral palsy, so you can't do that.'"
Schlieve said he plans to first start adding accessibility information about Eau Claire, the Twin Cities and Chicago. He said groups in Swaziland are also continuing to collect data.
"The point of this app is not just for the physically disabled," he said. "It's also for people who have vision issues, who are hearing impaired, people who have bad knees or backs, whatever — but would like to travel and would like to know some tips."
Schlieve said he also plans to incorporate GPS capability.
Schlieve said he first got the idea for app in 2005 after facing many accessibility issues while traveling. He said he regularly has problems finding information in guidebooks or online about accessibility.
His mother, Nancy Schlieve, said her son has been an advocate for people with disabilities for years.
"I think it's really the people with disabilities who are the most effective advocates and are steering the bus," she said. "Because other people don't really know — they're not experiencing it every day. If you don't have a connection with someone with a disability, you may empathize but you don't know how it really is."