Date: 8 October 2013
Source: Asina Pornwasin, The Nation
Thammasat grads, Microsoft students link up to develop website and app offering up-to-date info on accessible facilities
Two teams of students have joined hands with the goal of making wheelchair users' lives in Thailand easier via the development of the "wheel-go-round" website and appication, which provide up-to-date information on accessible facilities for the wheelchair-bound.
The group comprising graduates studying business administration (international programme) at Thammasat University's Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, and students from the Microsoft Student Partners programme.
Lipda Jaruthien, a Thammasat team member in the wheel-go-round group, said the idea behind the programme was sparked by the day-to-day problems faced by wheelchair users in accessing information on places that are easily accessible and wheelchair-friendly.
"Wheelchair users encounter problems regarding access to places and facilities, and their daily commutes are often fraught with difficulties. Some wheelchair users avoid going out and choose to stay at home because of the inconvenience of going out to the new places. This is because the information about places equipped with facilities for wheelchair users is not currently up to date. There is a lot of information that has not been included into a system," she said.
Lipda said the Thammasat team had joined Microsoft's "Innovate for Good" programme in order to come up with a solution to help wheelchair users. They met a team in the Microsoft Student Partners programme, and the two then decided to jointly develop a website and application.
The concept of wheel-go-round is to provide wheelchair facility information to both wheelchair users and their helpers. At the website (www.wheelgoround.in.th) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/wheelgoround) - there is up-to-date information on facilities such as ramps, restrooms, and parking spaces for wheelchair users.
The programme also selects places that are convenient for wheelchair users, and suggests travel routes via the website. Information can be found efficiently and quickly, and then be shared with others.
The website aims to encourage wheelchair users as well as their helpers to enjoy new experiences by taking advantage of information on places that have been shared on www.wheelgoround.in.th as well as on Facebook. It is also a way to establish relationships among the community of wheelchair users, said Lipda.
The development of the wheel-go-round programme has been supported by Microsoft (Thailand) together with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.