Disabled App Developer Creates App for Wheelchair Users

Mohammad Ouyoun, 21, was trying to get to Union Station to take a Metra train home to Northbrook last year when he came across a problem.

Ouyoun said he was at the Merchandise Mart Brown Line stop in River North and asked the CTA customer service agent which stop was closest to Union Station.

Taking the agent’s advice, Ouyoun got off train at the Quincy stop but couldn’t go farther than the platform because the stop does not have an elevator or a ramp for riders with physical disabilities. Ouyoun said he has been in a wheelchair his entire life, diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy.

To make it easier for wheelchair users to get around the CTA, Ouyoun has created a free app that gives riders transit directions that only include CTA stations with working elevators and/or wheelchair ramps and CTA buses, which all have ramps.

“I feel like there is a big need for this kind of application,” said Ouyoun, a software developer with Smart Chicago Collaborative, a group that uses city data to create apps to address resident needs. “It would not necessarily be limited to wheelchair users but moms with strollers and people with luggage.”

The Roll with Me app, at rollwithmeapp.com, allows users to enter their current location, destination and the time they would like to leave. The app shows wheelchair-friendly routes and a list of CTA alerts such as rail station elevators that are out of service for repairs.
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Maurice Smith