Snowball: DMU alumni creates “TripAdvisor for disabled community” app

By Fiora Flinton

Simon Sansome – DMU grad and app creator

Snowball is the new and first global app that allows disabled people to rate their experience of how accessible or inaccessible a venue is.

The app is created by De Montfort University graduate Simon Sansome, who became injured at 32 and uses a wheelchair.

He described it as “Trip Advisor for the disabled community” as the app allows people to rate their experience at a venue or business, take a picture of it, and how accessible it is for the disabled community.

The development of the app took six years and started whilst he was studying at DMU.

“How it came about is whilst I was at university, my wife and I went to our favourite restaurant, and at this point I had been through a year of recovery, and we found that I couldn’t get in.”

“Like anyone else, we didn’t pay any attention to disabled access before because if you’re fully mobile you don’t pay attention to factors such as ramps or automatic doors or the need for a disabled toilet.”

Simon had previously set up a Facebook page called Ability Access which aimed to raise awareness of disabled access issues in the Leicester area.

“I didn’t think anything else of it but now I have 100k followers on it and it’s the most read disability page in the world with readership of up to 28 million people a month.”

Simon states that the app is currently in its first phase after being launched in May and plans on introducing group chats, as well as being able to select a specific disability before leaving a review, to provide a more tailored description to those that use the app.

“Every disability is different, whether it’s a mental health issue, physical or learning disability, everyone has different needs and experiences as no disability is the same.”

“If someone has a hearing impairment, a review from a wheelchair user is not going to be relevant to them so the idea is that people will be able to see reviews from people who have a similar disability.”

He added that Snowball will give people more confidence to go out and not be afraid of being turned away – “the app tells you where is accessible and helps you to plan days out.”

Snowball is available to download on both the App Store and the Play Store.

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