How hard is it to climb one stair step? It may be a piece of cake for ordinary people, but is next to impossible for wheelchair users. Dennis Cho, who is also a disabled person, feels the same. “The difficulty of climbing a staircase always discourages disabled persons from going out. So I started to think is it possible to make a comprehensive guidebook on barrier-free information to help them hang out more freely.”
Cho got his answer in 2015 when he founded Free Guider, a website which provides a wide spectrum of information on barrier-free facilities and events from restaurants, shopping malls to scenic spots. In 2018 it extended its business to mobile apps. Each facility was reviewed, documented and reported by their employees with disabilities – a reflection of sincerity. “We hope to assure the authenticity of the information published. At its core is the users’ perspective.”
The Free Guider team consists of more than ten members who are physically handicapped persons, wheelchair users, or people recovered from mental illness. “We provide training and suitable jobs according to each one’s strength. For example, we have a girl who has crooked fingers because of spasticity. Yet she is good at typing. You never know!”
Cho sees “barrier-free” facilities as serving not only disabled persons but also the general public including carers, pregnant women and parents with newborns and toddlers. Therefore Free Guider also provides information on baby-care facilities and nursing room, etc., and is promoting their service to NGOs to reach a bigger audience. To achieve a “disabled-inclusive society”, he believes it requires not only an upgrade in the “hardware” but also the “software”. “Having an empathy to the needs and situations of the disabled is already one great step forward.”
- The SIE Fund is funding the start-up project of Free Guider's Barrier Free Total Solution. More details can be found here.
Scope of Services
- Free Guider: disabled persons also have the right to travel (etnet, 27/9/2018) (Chinese only)
- Free Guider creates a comprehensive barrier-free entertainment guidebook (etnet, 27/9/2018) (Chinese only)