About

About Us

Our Mission

We strive to serve people with disabilities, their families, and caregivers by providing a road-map of accessible public spaces and business locations around the world while raising awareness about the importance of accessibility and inclusion.

"When I was 9 years old, I saw a man in a wheelchair struggling to open a manual door. I wondered if there was a resource that he could have used to see what businesses around his area had automatic doors so he could actually access the business. I couldn't find anything like that, so I created the Ability App."
alex knoll photo
Alex Knoll
Founder

Lack Of Access

According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population (over 1 billion people) have some form of disability. Navigating public spaces for everyday tasks, such as going to the grocery store or entering a new business, can be a massive undertaking for people with disabilities.

 

From wheelchair ramps to braille menus, to service animal relief areas, the widespread lack of accessible accommodations keeps people from venturing out, traveling, participating in events and conferences, engaging in their communities, participating fully in the economy, and so much more. The global impact of exclusion is felt by individuals, families, friends, caregivers, communities, and businesses.

 

 

It’s staggering to think about.

inaccessible, lady in wheelchair stopped at steps
Profile view of wheelchair user moving up wheelchair ramp

What Does “Accessible” Really Mean?

“Wheelchair accessible” 

 

That statement is usually the extent of information you can find in advance about a location without having to call ahead. But who made that judgment? Does it mean someone can get a wheelchair onto the sidewalk, through the door, to the counter, to comfortable seating, and to the bathroom, all without having to ask for help? Not likely. Accessibility hasn’t been given the attention it deserves.

 

The Ability App is going to change this. 

About ability app

Knowing in advance where accessibility exists offers freedom and choice where it didn’t exist before. And we believe, wholeheartedly, that those choices will drive improvements in communities.

The Ability App is the solution to building a more inclusive world. Here's how.

Details

The Ability App provides critical details, ratings, photos, comments and more, in a convenient, searchable app. Users can search mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive accessibility features for hotels, restaurants, banks, and much more. With more than 15 (and growing!) rateable accommodations per each of the four main disability categories, people can simply search for restaurants with Braille menus, cafes with accessible seating, stores with low ambient noise levels, and so much more. 

desktop, handheld, and mobile devices, Ability App
Desktop, handheld, and mobile devices displaying Ability App.
a globe shape formed by hundreds of photos of faces

Crowd-Sourcing

Information in the Ability App is crowd-sourced, with the ability for anyone to give a rating, provide a review, and include photos. We provide simple guidance on how to review a listing, whether or not you require the accommodation yourself, because we believe those with access have a responsibility to promote inclusion for all.

Expanding Markets

We invite a strong partnership with local businesses, who can add details about their locations, learn from user feedback, and grow their customer base by responding to needs. We will help you tackle challenges, find resources, and create meaningful connections with the disabled community.

Business Woman

Digital Accessibility

Our rating system and the app itself are designed with accessibility in mind, including both numerical ratings and face-icon ratings that are preferred by some members of our community. The design is high-contrast, for those with vision-related impairments and the app is screen-reader friendly.

Mapping for All

As part of our Ability Ambassador program, we are developing information on how to map neighborhoods and city blocks, so that service groups, school teams, or groups of friends can build up ratings in their communities. Help us map the world!

Crowd Sourcing
Map Of The United States of America

Rollout!

The Ability App is currently available in select markets as we test and iterate, and will soon be expanding in the US and then the global market. Join our email list and follow our social channels to keep up on the latest developments and to learn where we’ll be next! Also, keep an eye out for Ability App window clings, indicating businesses with an accessibility mindset.

Our Journey

When founder Alex Knoll was nine years old, he saw a person in a wheelchair struggling to open a heavy manual door to access a business in his hometown. Alex wondered if there was a tool the person could have used to find other businesses in the area that would be easier to access. To his surprise, no such tool existed. In fact, there was no tool available for people with any type of disability to find accessible public spaces. Alex was driven to help, so he set out to design a resource to solve the problem, which set him on a truly impressive, and unexpected journey.

Ability App Team

The Process

Some people ask “What has taken so long?” to get from that initial idea to launch. Well, this isn’t your average start-up, and we think that’s what makes it so special. Taking the Ability App from idea to reality has relied upon a very large amount of volunteer hours and donations, including a generous surprise gift from the Ellen Show.

 

Alex has put 100% of funds raised from his speaking engagements into developing the app while connecting and collaborating with members of the world’s medical and therapy communities and many of the world’s largest organizations in the disability space. Those experiences and connections have shaped and continue to tailor the Ability App.

 

As you can see in the timeline below, Alex, along with his amazing parents, Anne and Brian, has remained dedicated to bringing the Ability App to the world. All while learning algebra, playing on the tennis team, and enjoying the life of a kid.

Timeline

2014

  • Nine-year-old Alex sees a man in a wheelchair struggling to open a manual door. He researches and finds no digital resources that could have helped the man find accessible options.

Nov 2014

  • Alex submits his idea and storyboard for the Ability App to a student invention competition, Invent Idaho, at his school. His idea wins the competition, and he achieves Best in Show for the state of Idaho.
Invent Idaho Alex Knoll, Invent Idaho Ability App
Alex Knoll holds a Best of Show award for Ability App. He in standing on stage with Beth Brubaker, Invent Idaho Founder. Ability App goes on to win Best of Show at the Invent Idaho State Finals, helping to propel the important message Alex is sharing about accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities.

Jan 2015

  • Alex’s Ability App wins national student invention competition, iCubed.

Sept 2015

  • The first working prototype of the Ability App is developed for iPad by Alex’s friends at HyperGiant.

Nov 2015

  • Alex presents the Ability App at Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland.
web summit, alex knoll, interview, ability app
Alex Knoll holds an iPad displaying Ability App at Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland and demonstrates how Ability App works to a reporter from the Irish News.

April 2016

  • Alex & Ability App appear in the Irish Times as one of Web Summit’s Rising Stars.

2016 - 2017

  • Alex and his parents conduct surveys, interviews and focus groups to determine the most impactful features for people with vision, hearing, cognitive and mobility impairments.

April 2016

  • Alex & Ability App receive the AT&T & Imagination Foundation Inventor’s Challenge Award.
Alex and Ability App are featured in the Irish Times newspaper as one of Web Summit’s Rising Stars.
Alex Knoll Imagination Foundation, Alex Knoll Ability App, Ability App Imagination Foundation,
Alex Knoll receives Inventor’s Challenge Award. Pictured Left to right, Beth Brubaker, Founder of Invent Idaho. Carl Gipson, Director of External and Legislative Affairs at AT&T. Alex Knoll. Scott Thomson, Executive Director of North Idaho STEM Charter Academy. Coleen Thomson, Founder of North Idaho STEM Charter Academy.

August 2016

  • Alex & Ability App receive the Discovery/3M Young Scientist Challenge Award for the State of Idaho.

Sept 2016

  • Alex & Ability App appear on the T.D. Jakes Show on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
td jakes, alex knoll, ability app, td jakes show, t.d. jakes show, ability app
Alex Knoll demonstrates how to use Ability App on the set of the TD Jakes Show.

May 2017

  • Alex & the Ability App appear on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.
  • Shutterfly and the Ellen DeGeneres Show donate $25,000 towards development of the Ability App.
Alex Knoll, Ellen Show, Ellen DeGeneres, Shutterfly, Ability App
Alex Knoll appears on the Ellen DeGeneres Show to talk about Ability App.

June 2017

  • Alex & Ability App appear on NBC Nightly News and the Today Show.
alex knoll, ability app, nbc nightly news, nbc news
Alex sits down with Joe Fryer of NBC Nightly News to talk about Ability App.

Sept 2017

  • Alex meets his hero, Apple CEO Tim Cook, on his second appearance on Ellen.
Alex Knoll, Tim Cook, Apple, Ellen, Ability App, Ellen Show
Ellen surprises Alex with a trip to Apple Park where Alex meets his hero, Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Oct 2017

  • Alex & Ability App appear on the cover of Time Magazine For Kids.
Alex Knoll, Time For Kids Alex Knoll, Magazine Cover Alex Knoll, Magazine Cover Time For Kids Alex Knoll, Magazine Cover Time For Kids Ability App
Alex Knoll is smiling at the camera on the cover of TIME for Kids magazine. He is holding an iPad that is displaying Ability App.

Oct 2017

  • Alex appears on Ellen a third time to help unbox the iPhone X and uses Facetime with Ellen and Tim Cook.
Alex Knoll, iPhone X review, Ellen Show, Ellen DeGeneres, Alex Knoll Review
Ellen DeGeneres and Alex Knoll Facetime Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Jan 2018

  • Nickelodeon HALO features Alex & Ability App in their HALO Movement.
Nickelodeon, Alex Knoll, Ability App, Nickelodeon HALO, Halo
Alex Knoll and Ability App are featured on Nickelodeon’s Halo movement. Alex Knoll is smiling at the camera, holding the first Ability App prototype.

2018-Present

  • Alex continues speaking at conferences, service groups, and businesses about how to improve accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities, eventually branching out to become a sought-after international speaker. Alex donates 100% of his speaking fees to Ability App to accelerate development efforts.
C2 Montréal, Alex Knoll, Speaker

Jan 2018

  • Engineer Luke Mizuhashi volunteers to help develop the current app.

June 2018

  • Alex and the Ability App are featured on the BBC.
Alex knoll, Ability App, BBC, BBC3
BBC features Alex's story about Ability App and his message about accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities.

June 2018

  • After connecting with Alex, the International Paralympics Committee produces a video about the Ability App.
International Paralympics Committee, Ability App, Alex Knoll

2019

  • New features are added to Ability App prior to the beta testing phase.
  • Engineers from Limelyte help refine Ability App.
ability app on mobile device

Mar 2019

  • Alex receives the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for the State of Idaho for over 4 years of volunteer work to help people with disabilities.
  • Alex also receives The President's Volunteer Service Award bestowed by the President of the United States for Alex's volunteer work helping people with disabilities.
Alex Knoll Prudential Spirit of Community Award
Alex receives the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for the State of Idaho and The President of the United States' Volunteer Service Award. Pictured left to right, Prudential Representative. Ron Jacobson, City Of Post Falls mayor. Alex Knoll. Steve Widmeyer, City of Coeur d’Alene Mayor.

March 2019

  • Hannah Munro OTD OTR/L of Belmont University’s Occupational Therapy Program helps Alex / Ability App develop an accessibility guidebook.

Fall 2019

  • Ability App beta testing begins.
AOTA Conference, Ability App
Hanna Munro, OTD OTR/L, smiling at the camera holding an iPad displaying Alex Knoll on a video call. She is standing next to an Ability App informational poster that reads “Tomorrow’s Tool For Today’s Occupational Therapist.”

Jan 2020

  • To bring Ability App to a global audience, Alex founds Coeur Technologies.

    After five years of relying primarily on the spare time of an active student and his working parents to manage the project, the Ability App team expands in preparation for a national rollout.
Coeur Technologies

Mar 2020

  • Ilumino helps make the Ability App accessible for all.
  • Early mapping of locations begins in Spokane, WA and Coeur d’Alene, ID.

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We’re always happy to discuss how we can best serve you. Please reach out to us!

P.O. Box 2665
Post FallsID 83877
United States of America