August 23, 2018
As part of my work in getting to know the city better, from other perspectives, I’ve often wondered what the downtown area is like for Ljubljana’s disabled residents and visitors. For example, I like going to a certain café, but the entrance is such a mess of steps and the bathrooms look hard to negotiate. I started looking around town and thinking of ideas for an article, and felt my view of the city harden somewhat, as many places lacked the accessibility needed to enjoy them.
But then I went online and found sites such as Spin the Globe (“Why Ljubljana is the Coolest Accessible City You’ve Never Heard Of”) and Wheelchair Wanderings (“Hipster, accessible Ljubljana”), saying how good the city was for those in wheelchairs, and noting small things that I hadn’t even seen, like the ramps for cycles, skateboards, pushchairs, wheelchairs and so on at all (most?) sidewalk crossings, and the various Eurokey facilities available to users of the system..
One big advantage of Ljubljana By Wheelchair is that it’s made by people who live in the city, not just visit, so they know what Open Kitchen looks like when it gets going.
It was clear that I had much to learn, and so I was excited when I saw Alternative Ljubljana sharing a post on Facebook yesterday promoting a new app, in English and Slovene, Ljubljana By Wheelchair, that you can get for free via Google Play or Apple’s App Store. It’s supported by Ljubljana Tourism, and is one of city’s many efforts to become increasingly liveable for more of its residents, and more enjoyable for more of its visitors.
You can set the app to Slovene or English. Screenshot of the app
In this case the focus on accessibility, or the lack of it – although note the app only includes places that it recommends, rather than listing everything that doesn’t have a ramp or wide enough spaces, and not every place it recommends has a disabled bathroom inside.
Some of the places to see. Screenshot of the app
The app, which will be updated annually, contains information on accessible accommodation, restaurants, shops, sights, activities, cafés and bars. As you search these categories you can filter by price, degree of accessibility, Eurokey facility, disabled parking and bathrooms. The app is integrated with Google Maps, so you can always see where the places are in relation to your location, and by clicking on a pin for, say, the nearest café, you’ll be taken to the page with more details.
The interactive map makes this more than just a list. Screenshot of the app
And while the name indicates the app’s aimed at wheelchair users that’s not the whole market, as anyone with decreased mobility, or a friend or relative who can’t move as much as they used to, can benefit from the first-hand knowledge it offers. At Ljubljana Castle, for example, the regular bathrooms are difficult to find, down many stairs, a nightmare for some visitors even if not in a wheelchair. It’s thus good to know that there is a disabled bathroom, to the right of the entrance to the Tower. Look there and you’ll see gates with a number to call, that a member of security will then come and unlock.
The page for the Castle. Screenshot of the app
Indeed, I was so impressed with Ljubljana By Wheelchair that I immediately set up an interview with one of the people behind the app, which should run next week. But until then I encourage you to check out this simple, easy-to-use and free app that helps give another view of the city, via the main website here, or the related pages on Google Play and Apple’s App Store.