A cellphone that knows where steps and ramps are?

New Software Blazes Barrier-Free Trails for Wheelchair Users

Life sciences student Anette von Laffert is rushing to get to a rugby game. She hurries quickly down an alleyway but suddenly stops at the sight of an obstacle: a pair of steps. Oh no, she thinks. Here we go again.

Or rather: Here we don’t go again. For a wheelchair user like her, stairs are an insurmountable barrier, so she has to turn around and start all over again — which is extremely frustrating. Getting from A to B is everything but straightforward when you can’t walk.

The “Trailblazers” mapping software can be downloaded onto mobile phones or PDAs.
Fortunately things could soon take a new direction: A specialist mapping software which charts barriers like steps or road damage is currently being developed by a group of Laffert’s fellow students at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamburg.



  1. stephen

    i just got back from scotland, and found that the historical site we went to, and many of the streets, were cobbled, making my wheelchair useless. a lot of difficult walking. i am planing to write an article for…somewhere.

  2. Katja

    Sorry to hear it – I had the cobblestone (well, brick) problem in Colonial Williamsburg, and the solution was Frog Legs. I’m looking forward to your travel report.


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