The Nathan Cummings Foundation



New Website Rates Accessibility of Shops, Restaurants and Other Businesses for People with Disabilities

New Website Rates Accessibility of Shops, Restaurants and Other Businesses for People with Disabilities
NEW YORK – For the first time, people with disabilities will have access to reliable and detailed user-generated information about which restaurants, shops and other businesses they can patronize before arriving and learning their disabilities prohibit them from joining family and friends — an all too common experience for many.

AXS Map (pronounced access map) is a first-of-its-kind website that gives people with mobility disabilities the power to share knowledge of their local communities, and to help anyone, anywhere find the places that accommodate their needs. Developed by Brooklyn-based AXS Lab, the website enables users to rate on a five-star scale the wheelchair accessibility, spaciousness and noise levels of local businesses and hangouts. Users can join the AXS Map community at


AXS Lab was established by filmmaker Jason DaSilva, who was diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis and has often struggled to guide himself around popular businesses in his wheelchair.

“I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005 and have since lost the ability to walk and move around without my motorized scooter, and today, a set of six steps in the entryway might as well be a six story impenetrable wall,” said Jason DaSilva, creator of AXS Map. “As I adjusted to my new life, I was surprised to learn that anytime I wanted to get out of the house, there was no way for me to know whether the places I planned to visit were accessible. AXS Map gives me and others the ability to know exactly which locations are accessible and the freedom to travel to new communities confident that we will be able to find places and bathrooms that are accessible. The best part is that the tool is powered by individuals and communities. The more reviews that are shared, the better it gets. ”

AXS Map was created with funding provided by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Fledgling Fund. Support was also provided by the Google Earth Outreach Developer Grants from the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of the Tides Foundation.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation, AXS Map’s largest funder, provided $150,000 to help jumpstart the website’s development. Support of new media projects like AXS Map represent a new focus, but continued commitment for the Nathan Cummings Foundation to lift-up community-based efforts that stimulate social change, amplify the voices of underrepresented communities, and champion economic justice endeavors.

The Nathan Cummings Foundation believes that AXS Map will not only be a needed resource and tool to help those with disabilities continue to live their daily lives more efficiently, but also advocate for policy change.

“When you hear Jason's story, you immediately understand why AXS Map is needed,” said Simon Greer, the President and CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, which provided $150,000 to help jumpstart the website’s development. “This pioneering new tool will create positive social change by helping Americans with disabilities gain access to the places too many of us too often take for granted.”
As part of the website’s launch, dozens of volunteers and community leaders will simultaneously roam New York and San Francisco on Saturday, May 12, to “map” shops, restaurants and other businesses for the AXS Map program. Many of the volunteer mappers will be simulating what it is like to navigate the city in a wheelchair by riding motorized wheelchairs donated by Scootaround. Among those expected to participate is New York City Council Member Gale Brewer.

“It is unacceptable that those who use wheelchairs still find inaccessibility such a major issue in their day-to-day lives,” said New York City Council Member Gale Brewer. “What AXS Map does is empower those with disabilities, and the wider community, to use new technology to share with business owners and the world, how accessible a particular place is. I introduced legislation, which was recently passed by the City Council and then signed by the Mayor as Local Law 21 of 2012, which will create an Accessible Pedestrian Signal program to benefit members of the visually impaired community in New York City. Similarly, the AXS Map is a great example of an application to increase accessibility for people in wheelchairs, and I am proud to support the goal of the creators of creating a world that is accessible for all.”