Groundbreaking iPhone App to be launched

30-Oct-2013 4:22 PM

Villa Maria is gearing up to launch a unique and innovative iPhone app set to make a huge difference in the way people with disability or mobility issues and their carers access Melbourne venues and events.

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The free Out & About - Accessing your community app will be released for download at an exciting community event hosted by the aged and disability services organisation on Sunday, December 1 at Albert Park.  

Villa Maria Executive Manager of Marketing Rebecca Ryan said Out & About will fill what has been labelled a “glaring gap” in the local market for app initiatives to assist people with disability or mobility issues.

“The Out & About app is a location-based tool featuring venues and events throughout metropolitan Melbourne based on their accessibility features.  Users can filter their desired criteria including location, distance and accessibility options and venues of interest such as restaurants, shopping centres, museums, sports centres, parks and playgrounds, etc to find the best option to suit their needs.  While there are plenty of websites out there featuring this type of information, there appears to be nothing locally available in the easy-to-use app form, which really has become a convenient way for people to locate information.”

Ms Ryan said as a not-for-profit organisation assisting children and adults with disabilities, older people, their families and carers, Villa Maria saw first-hand the difficulties faced by people with mobility issues and their carers to access their communities.

“For many people, the simple task of heading out to their local library or park to catch up with friends or take some time out for themselves, can take an enormous amount of time, effort and planning.  Usually they must call ahead to find out if the venue has accessible parking, a wheelchair ramp, non-slip surfaces, accessible toilets with handrails, or investigate how close it is to public transport.  We feel that people should not be disadvantaged because of their accessibility needs, and hope that this app will go a long way to making outings easier for people with disability or mobility issues and their carers.”

A recent review by the Australian Network on Disability (AND) revealed there were only two home grown apps that assisted people with a disability, though none where a business could register its accessibility features, or included accessible information on  popular museums or concert venues etc.

The review called for an app that mapped not only accessibility of public infrastructure but also of major department stores and supermarkets, which may “up the ante” in terms of making these businesses accessible to all.

Ms Ryan said she believed Villa Maria’s Out & About app would, over time, fit the bill.

“This app will be a valuable tool for local businesses and venues and those planning events to ensure their accessibility features are known to the general public by sending a simple email to Villa Maria with their details and accessibility features for verification and upload.  The app is also interactive for users, allowing them to write a review of a venue they have visited which will then be visible to others users, helping them to determine if the venue has the accessibility features they need.  Venues consistently rated highly will be identified with a ‘highly recommended ribbon’,” Ms Ryan said.

“As I’m sure people can appreciate, populating this app is a huge and ongoing task.  We hope to receive continued support from the public following its launch to ensure the app is filled with as much up-to-date information as possible, making it the best tool available for people with mobility issues and their carers to access relevant information from the one place.”

Villa Maria’s Out & About app will be launched at a free, family fun day event, Out & About – Accessing Your Community, on Sunday, December 1 at Albert Park.

The interactive and accessibility friendly event, to be held ahead of International Day of People with a Disability, will run from 11am to 3pm and feature a sausage sizzle, music for all ages by Orchestra Victoria and other musicians, roving entertainers, sports stars, and a 2km walk for people of all abilities culminating in a thrilling sky diving show.  Demonstrations of indoor sports activities modified for people of all abilities, as well as opportunities to participate, will also be held in the adjacent Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre (MSAC).  

If you would like a sneak peek of the app, or to suggest a venue or event, please visit  For more information about the event or app please call Veronica Lyons on 9837 6641 or email

Interviews and photograph opportunities are available upon request.

Media enquiries: call Cassie Zlonzak on (03) 9855 7729 or 0406 382 560.


About Villa Maria     


Villa Maria is a values-based, not-for-profit organisation providing quality services and life enhancing opportunities for older people, children and adults with a disability, their families and carers.

Established in 1907 as the Catholic Braille Writers Association, Villa Maria has grown to become one of Victoria’s largest not-for-profit providers of disability, education and senior services with more than 60 programs supporting 5,000 people across the state and southern New South Wales.

Every day of the year, 1,200 staff and 300 volunteers respond to the unique needs of the people and families we support with openness, innovation, creativity and flexibility.

Media contact

Cassie Zlonzak
Communications Adviser

Telephone: 03 9837 6629

Fax: 03 9837 6668

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About us

Villa Maria is a not-for-profit, values-based organisation providing quality services and life enhancing opportunities for older people and children and adults with a disability, their families and carers.

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