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How a Toronto tech entrepreneur harnessed the power of making life more accessible
March 6, 2020
[VIDEO] Maayan Ziv doesn’t have to wander far from her office in downtown Toronto to find a business she can’t visit or suddenly be stalled by a step or a door without a push button. But the 29-year-old is turning around these experiences. She’s a tech entrepreneur, who lives with muscular dystrophy.
“Living with a disability means that you’re constantly having to be creative. I have to think about all the gaps in the sidewalks, and all the missing elevators, and all the inaccessible things that could go wrong,” Ziv said in an interview with CTV News Toronto Friday.
Podcast: The business case for accessibility
February 4, 2020
How do we make the world more accessible? And how can that accessibility add value to a business? These aren’t questions many CEOs ask, but for Maayan Ziv, who has muscular dystrophy, they’re pivotal to the success of her business, AccessNow.
Maayan Ziv: Making The World More Accessible
August 19, 2019
AccessNow has been live for four years now and we’ve gained so much insight from the community, from people who have directly benefited or have used AccessNow in some way to do something. They’ve contributed a lot of information through emails, social media or getting in touch in-person. They let us know what’s good and what could be better…
3 Ways to Start Integrating Accessibility into Your Workplace (& Life)
August 7, 2019
Canada’s federal government has made significant moves to support individuals with lived experience of disability in recent months — from passing the Accessible Canada Act to investing in AccessNow, an app that maps accessible locations across the country. But how can Canadians be better advocates for accessibility on an individual level?
CSI Success Story: Maayan Ziv
August 2, 2019
In 2016, Maayan Ziv was part of the Agents of Change: Community Health cohort for AccessNow, her crowd sourced mobile/web platform the shows accessibility information for locations worldwide. Along with the other Agents of Change, Maayan received a $10,000-grant, a one-year membership to CSI, acceleration supports from leading advisors and educators in organizational and business development, and took part in special programming such as Peer Circles and special events.
AccessNow Receives $2.7 Million from Federal Government for Accessibility Platform
August 1, 2019
AccessNow, an online platform that crowdsources information on the accessibility of public spaces and venues, such as restaurants and businesses, has raised $2.7 million from the federal government. The startup, which serves as a community resource for those requiring information about accessibility, offers a TripAdvisor-like user experience that crowdsources the opinions and experiences of its users on various public locations. AccessNow will use the investment to open up the technology’s functionality, pursue community partnerships, in addition to new features that the startup plans to announce later on.
New app literally puts accessibility on the map
August 1, 2019
[VIDEO] A Toronto tech startup has garnered the support of Microsoft and new funding by the Canadian government. AccessNow is an app available on Google Play and the Apple App Store, allowing users to discover more than 26,000 accessible and nonaccessible pinned locations in 35 countries around the world.
Accessibility app receives cash injection to help more Canadians with disabilities
August 1, 2019
An accessibility application that aims to break down barriers facing Canadians with disabilities has received a major boost in funding from Ottawa. AccessNow, an online platform that uses crowd-sourced information to show how mobility-friendly buildings and public transit are, will receive $2.7 million in investment from the federal government. Carla Qualtrough, the minister of Public Services, Procurement and Accessibility, announced the cash injection Thursday at a news conference in Toronto. She said the investment is not only a boost for Canadians with disabilities but also for an inclusive economy.
How Maayan Ziv is taking over a $25B underserved market
August 1, 2019
More than four million Canadians live with a disability. Because many buildings and public spaces were built without accessibility in mind for people who use wheelchairs or other assistive devices, those four million people are unable to live life to the fullest. Maayan Ziv uses a power chair to assist her mobility and knows this problem all too well. But once she realized how many other people faced similar issues to her, she knew she needed to do something about it.
Federal government awards $2.7 million to crowdsourced accessibility app
August 1, 2019
AccessNow, founded by Maayan Ziv at Ryerson University’s DMZ startup incubator in 2015, collects and maps data from users about the accessibility of areas like restaurants, bars and retailers. The app has more than 26,000 locations tagged across 35 countries. The investment, announced by Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough, was made through the Accessible Technology Program, a $22.3-million fund to be allocated over five years starting in 2017. The company plans to use the funding to grow its team from seven workers to 15 over the next couple years. (The Logic)
Q & A: Innovating Around Obstacles
Living with muscular dystrophy hasn’t stopped Maayan Ziv from becoming a photographer, activist, and innovator. By crowdsourcing information about physical structures, AccessNow, the app Ziv launched in 2015, allows people with mobility challenges to know what they can expect in a given location before they displace themselves. It has proved so popular that Ziv, 28, won Startup Canada’s Resilient Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2016. Policy Magazine Social Media Editor Grace MacDonald spoke with Maayan Ziv about accessibility, technology, and where the two meet.
Meet 5 Canadian Women Building Apps For a Better World
March 7, 2019
These barriers to everyday activities are what inspired Ziv to create AccessNow, an app that allows users to track the accessibility of locations worldwide, from restaurants to concert halls. “It’s time to realize that inaccessible places and experiences are not just inconvenient, but they also send a signal that people with disabilities, or anyone who requires accessibility, is not welcome everywhere. To be blunt, inaccessibility, whether intentional or not, is a form of discrimination.”
These 5 innovations show how good design can make the world more inclusive
January 18, 2019
To expand the conversation further and raise public awareness around the surge in accessible products and services designed over the last decade, we organized a groundbreaking exhibition – ACCESS+ABILITY – which opened in December 2017 to widespread acclaim. Demonstrating how design is providing unprecedented access to a world that now includes over one billion people with disabilities, the exhibition emphasized the rising participation of people with disabilities in the design process—and how giving voice to a diversity of people results in solutions that work better for all.
Letter from the editor: Tech’s mobility omission
January 18, 2019
Mobility is a term the tech community has co-opted to mean everything from transit-as-a-service to autonomous vehicles to what Ford CEO Jim Hackett called “a ‘catch-all’ phrase encompassing all non-traditional businesses.” At its core, mobility is about offering greater accessibility and convenience to more people. But too often that isn’t the case. After we published our story about Lime and Bird’s e-scooter expansion plans in Canada, a reader pointed me to a Twitter thread highlighting concerns over what abandoned dockless scooters mean for wheelchair users.
Creating a More Accessible World: Q&A with Maayan Ziv, Founder and CEO AccessNow
December 3, 2018
We are inspired by our community every single day. We have the privilege of working alongside Canadians who are using technology to make the world more accessible and inclusive for everyone. One of these remarkable people is Maayan Ziv, Founder and CEO of AccessNow, a mobile app and website that collects and shares information about the accessibility status of places worldwide.
Recently named one of WXN’s Most Powerful Women in Canada and one of Microsoft’s #MSFTChangeAgents, Maayan is a shining star in our community. To celebrate her work, Microsoft’s Ricardo Wagner – Accessibility Lead Canada, hosted an engaging Q&A with Maayan which we have shared below.
Taking the road less known: Three women who found success by following their passion
November 22, 2018
For some people, following an established career path is the way to find workplace success and satisfaction: You get a degree, get a job, and rise through the corporate ranks, with promotions and salary increases along the way. For others, a linear career in a highly structured organization was just never in the cards.
Maayan Ziv is a perfect example of the latter. “I wanted to throw the rule book out the window and figure it out from scratch,” says Ziv, founder and CEO of AccessNow, a for-profit social enterprise that maps the accessibility of places and experiences worldwide.
Is it accessible? Spotlight on Maayan Ziv
September 28, 2018
“Imagine going to an establishment, only to find out that it has three steps.”
For most, this statement means merely climbing those few steps to reach the entrance. For Maayan Ziv, founder of AccessNow, those words not only represent the lifelong challenge she confronts daily—but also an opportunity to seize.
“Growing up, I always had a disability. I face challenges that other people don’t. Naturally, we tend to look at adversity as a bad thing, but I look at it as one of my greatest assets.”
Accessible City Design
June 13, 2018
Melbourne, Australia has held the number one spot for the past several years followed by Vienna, Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary and Adelaide who have tied for 5th place. After careful analysis, it became apparent that this seemingly diverse and in depth report does not take one critical factor into account: accessibility. As comprehensive as it may be, the report does not examine how livable cities may be for people with disabilities. What exactly has to transpire in order for the lives of people with disabilities to be considered alongside the lives of those without?
June 2, 2018
[VIDEO] Years of advocacy in the disability community along with technological advances have spurred the creation of more products for people with a range of abilities. NewsHour Weekend’s Megan Thompson talks to New York City’s Digital Accessibility Coordinator about the importance of accessible design and tours an exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum that highlights these advancements.
Meet 8 of Toronto’s most inspiring changemakers
April 8, 2018
Social justice, gender equality, inclusion and accessibility — these are just a few of the things these eight unstoppable women are fighting for. Best of all, they’re living proof that you can make positive change at any age. Prepare to be inspired!
Here and Now Toronto with Gill Deacon: Maayan Ziv on the possibility of new accessibility emojis
March 26, 2018
December 14, 2017
Many recent technological advancements seem more ominous than optimistic: Alexa eavesdropping on water cooler conversations at work, automation taking our jobs, autonomous vehicles crashing into taco trucks. Or they’re more frivolous than helpful (for example, automated dental floss dispensers). But “Access+Ability,” an exhibition opening Friday at the Cooper Hewitt design museum in Manhattan, fills one with real optimism: It highlights the beneficial ways design and technology are transforming the lives of people with different physical, cognitive and sensory abilities.
November 30, 2017
The roster of Canadian tech startup founders is endless. To shine a light on this emerging community, we have created a list of 20 names from across the country who are helping to define the Canada’s startup narrative on Twitter. With this list, we aimed to highlight a diverse range of voices from coast-to-coast and from ventures of varying sizes. The one unifier: all 20 individuals are using Twitter exceedingly well to grow their business and be part of the conversation worldwide.
November 21, 2017
Local advocates who pushed Uber to up its game on accessibility are urging Lyft, which enters the Toronto market in December, to do the same. “Whether it’s Uber or a competitor, looking hard at accessibility is a vital component for any business,” said Maayan Ziv, founder of accessibility-based tech firm AccessNow. “Regardless of who you are, you should not be restricted from a service.”
November 21, 2017
In the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem sits a ruined citadel called David’s Tower. Fought over by King David himself, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans and Israelis, it’s now a museum spanning 4,000 years of history. But the castle is soon to assume another identity: as home to a startup accelerator specializing in virtual reality.
November 7, 2017
Maayan Ziv has been something of an entrepreneur her entire life. Not necessarily the “develop a product and bring it to market” sort of entrepreneur; more the “see a problem, find a solution” type of entrepreneur. Ziv, 27, was born with muscular dystrophy and has used a wheelchair since she was a child.
November 6, 2017
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? MZ: In many ways I feel I have been learning to be an entrepreneur since I was very little. From being a young girl with a disability to today. I often have to problem-solve through challenging situations because the reality is that the world just isn’t built for people with disabilities in mind.
October 27, 2017
Maayan Ziv s a photographer turned tech entrepreneur with a creative story to match. From solving her own problems to changing the conversation about accessibility, Maayan is a trailblazer who is unafraid to admit when she doesn’t know something. AccessNow recently won the inaugural #MoveTheDialPITCH competition, winning $10,000 cash on top of mentorship from an experienced panel of judges.
October 24, 2017
Bella Beare has muscular dystrophy and will likely never walk. But recently, she’s learned to roll, and her mother, Jessica Beare, says it’s given Bella a new lease on life. “As soon as you put her in that and she has the freedom of getting around, she just — she lights up,” the mother said Tuesday.
AccessNow receives $10,000 from #MoveTheDial pitch competition
October 23, 2017
This past weekend in Toronto, five women founders pitched to a room of 100 people for the first-ever #MoveTheDial hackathon. In the end, Ziv took the top prize of $10,000 for AccessNow. “Within a very short time, #Movethedial has already created meaningful impact for my journey as a female founder building my first tech company,” said Ziv.
September 27, 2017
As hundreds of athletes with disabilities compete in the Invictus Games this week in Toronto, a push is on to make the city’s businesses more accessible….Maayan Ziv, who has muscular dystrophy, is a champion for furthering accessibility in Toronto. She created a website and app to showcase areas around the world that are accessible — and those that aren’t.
September 1, 2017
Maayan Ziv is a photographer turned entrepreneur who found her passion by working to solve the accessibility challenges she faces in everyday life. Now, she’s an advocate for accessibility in tech through her company, AccessNow. Read on to see her global idea for tech and innovation.
August 17, 2017
The Jetsons promised us flying cars. Star Trek made teleportation seem a graspable dream. And people are still waiting eagerly for Back to the Future’s hoverboards to make their way to sporting goods stores. While many technologies remain elusive, today’s generation of tech savvy change-makers are dreaming up a new era of accessibility with inclusion at its core.
July 8, 2017
One Toronto group is en route to making outdoor trails more accessible. AccessNow is mapping the Pan Am Path to find out how easily people with mobility devices can use the trail. Maayan Ziv, founder of AccessNow, an advocacy organization, said that people often forget about lifestyle and recreational activities in the conversation about accessibility.
July 7, 2017
Anthony Lue is a cyclist and Paralympics hopeful, but this summer he is taking on a new project — biking and mapping the 85-kilometre Pan Am Path. Using a streetview camera mounted on an off-road wheelchair, Lue will be photographing and exploring the path in the initiative with AccessNow, Icon Wheelchairs and Google.
July 5, 2017
June 26, 2017
If you’ve been wondering why a section of Toronto’s iconic CN Tower has been covered in a tarp for the past month — wonder no longer. New floor-to-ceiling windows were unveiled on Monday on the lookout level of the tower, offering a better view for everyone, including people who use wheelchairs.
June 19, 2017
As the city seeks to renew its accessibility plan, those who want to eliminate barriers say some Toronto small businesses are putting them up instead of tearing them down. Maayan Ziv, founder of AccessNow, an app that finds and rates accessibility of restaurants and stores, recently found out that a place where she used to buy shawarma on Spadina Avenue is no longer barrier free.
August 2, 2017
Not knowing which restaurants, hotels, bars and stores were accessible frustrated Maayan Ziv. So she built an app for that. AppTV’s Richard Harlow speaks to Ziv about AccessNow, which uses crowdsourcing to rate the accessibility of businesses.
Watch the video
June 14, 2017
AccessNow aims to share accessibility information around the world. Search for specific places like a restaurant, hotel or store, or browse the map to see what is nearby with the accessibility features you require. Filter the map by category and tags and find the access that you need now.
Watch the video
May 2, 2017
Overcoming adversity is not for the faint of heart. Maayan Ziv, founder of AccessNow, an app that finds and rates accessible restaurants, stores, hotels, and more worldwide, is working tirelessly to bring accessibility to the forefront of everyone’s minds. “The idea is to actually build an inclusive community where we can all relate to what accessibility means.”
April 11, 2017
There’s an app for everything — almost. Maayan Ziv noticed that while it’s easy to use your phone to figure out when a restaurant is open or what’s on the menu, it was almost impossible to look up whether those places were wheelchair accessible.
April 10, 2017
Show co-created by Ken Dryden celebrates innovative Canadians like Toronto’s Maayan Ziv. Maayan Ziv in Toronto, one of the subjects of the CBC-TV series We Are Canada, has created an app that rates businesses on how accessible they are to handicapped people.
April 7, 2017
Maayan Ziv is a twenty-five-year-old fashion photographer turned accessibility advocate and app developer. Born with muscular dystrophy, Ziv plans to map the world with her app, Access Now, which uses crowdsourcing to pin-point the accessibility status of locations.
April 3, 2017
Maayan Ziv zips around downtown Toronto. She is in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t matter hugely to her, nor that she has a form of muscular dystrophy, nor that she is young, nor that she is tiny. “I’m not thinking small,” says the 25-year-old photographer. “I want to go big.” The only thing that really gets in her way are the stupid little barriers the rest of us don’t think about.
March 8, 2017
AccessNow is mapping as many places around the world as possible and building a community of people passionate about change in the process. AccessNow is all about empowering people with accessibility challenges with access to all the places they want to go…now!
February 15, 2017
Maayan Ziv is a 26-year-old self-taught professional photographer from Toronto, Canada. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Arts, she went on to pursue a career that focused mainly on black and white emotive portraiture, editorial fashion and gritty street scenes.
December 14, 2016
The Torontonian is the creator of AccessNow: a website—and now an app—that crowdsources the accessibility of everyday places. We talked to Ziv, who uses a wheelchair, about the lightbulb moment behind her idea and finding opportunity and strength through disability.
December 9, 2016
Best Product for Social Good: AccessNow app for iOS
The purpose of AccessNow is simple: provide information about whether restaurants, bars, shops, cultural institutions and other places of business and commerce are accessible to those with physical disabilities.
December 7, 2016
The city of Toronto handed out its 2016 Access, Equity and Human Rights Awards Tuesday evening to activists who are working to break down barriers to equality in the city. “We need to make sure that each person is seen, that their voices are heard, and that each person feels that they have the rights to different spaces in Toronto,” said Ziv, founder of the mobile app AccessNow and winner of the Award for Disability Issues.
November 22, 2016
Maayan Ziv was born with muscular dystrophy which she says has helped her build up a sense of resilience. “People assume that I’m a sweet little girl who has nice dreams,” she says wryly, “watch me kill that assumption.” A passionate photographer and entrepreneur, she is working to change expectations of how people with disabilities access public spaces.
July 13, 2016
Fast subways, carpool lanes, and a responsive traffic light system are essential for highly mobile cities; and apps like Yelp and Google Maps help users navigate around them. But from a personal perspective, mobility can be a question of whether there is a ramp instead of a staircase leading to your favorite café. Until recently, little existed to help map accessibility for people with disabilities – a fact which catalyzed AccessNow founder Maayan Ziv to action.
June 10, 2016
At the latest TechToronto meetup last week, AccessNow founder Maayan Ziv kicked off her presentation with a photo of a step at an entrance of a business. Ziv, who has muscular dystrophy, summed it up simply: “This sucks, and this could be your business.”
June 8, 2016
AccessNow founder Maayan Ziv, who created a crowdsourced web app that allows users to determine the accessibility of restaurants, cafes, and hotels in their city, has been recognized with a David C. Onley Award for Leadership in Accessibility.
June 3, 2016
These days, almost everyone owns a smartphone, and goes about their day swiping through their favourite apps on their way to work and home without a second thought. But what if technology — which is considered a powerful tool for marginalized groups to communicate and express themselves — isn’t designed in a way that includes everyone?
May 2, 2016
Maayan Ziv understanding the struggle to find information on wheelchair accessibility first hand; growing up with spinal muscular atrophy, Ziv says one of the top questions she asks restaurant owners or hotel managers on a regular basis is whether or not a place is wheelchair accessible.
February 28, 2016
It’s a situation countless people with disabilities regularly find themselves facing — one a new app aims to make sure anyone with accessibility issues can avoid. Imagine planning a night out with friends, calling ahead to a restaurant to make sure you have a reservation, and then finding out you can’t get through the front door.
February 5, 2016
People with physical disabilities have a new tool to avoid the frequent frustration of inaccessible buildings. “Imagine going to a location, trying to show up to an event or a job interview, and there’s a step,” says Access Now founder Maayan Ziv, who uses a mobility device. “That’s the situation I’ve been in countless times.”
January 11, 2016
Maayan Ziv is a former graduate of Digital Media with a passion for creating a more accessible world for people who use wheelchairs. At age 25, she may have done just that.“ AccessNow is a mobile app that is using crowd sourcing to collect and share accessibility information all around the world,” said Ziv.
January 2, 2016
L’anxiété et la frustration de ne pas avoir accès à certains commerces ont poussé Maayan Ziv, une photographe professionnelle qui souffre de dystrophie musculaire, à créer l’application pour téléphones intelligents Access Now.
December 3, 2015
December 3rd, 2015 marks the United Nations Enable initiative of International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme for this year’s Day is “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities,” and we thought we would ask our friend Maayan Ziv to tell us about her new app, AccessNow.
November 20, 2015
A Toronto woman has created a solution to a problem many of us don’t realize exists. Maayan Ziv is a wheelchair user. She thoroughly researches locations and often calls ahead before visiting them to make sure they are accessible to her. But often, even if she’s been told otherwise, she says there’s some sort of access barrier, “I show up in New York City at the hotel and there’s five steps to the entrance.
October 27, 2015
Ryerson grad Maayan Ziv’s friends moved four garbage cans out of an alley way, kicked aside debris and pried open a heavy gate so that Ziv could access Lou Dawgs’ back patio in her power chair last September. It was her first week in Ryerson’s master of digital media program and she was determined to meet with the rest of her class who had gathered there.
August 11, 2015
Ontario has touted Toronto 2015’s Parapan Am Games as the most accessible games ever, but what do our visiting athletes think? The Star asked para-athletes how the city fares when compared with the barriers they face back home. From widened doorways to the tiny bumps ahead of a blended curb, they credited building designs and social attitudes as two factors that helped them overcome barriers throughout the wider Toronto community. In light of the Games, both residents and those visiting have a new tool at their disposal to report barriers they find in public spaces.