Using Mobile Applications for Advocacy

Six different images include: a women instructing a class outdoors, a young child writing on paper, a student pointing to a chalkboard, a young boy inspects an item in his hands, a young child claps, a women works with two children on an assignment.


Smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices are increasingly being used by the public. Mobile applications (apps) are convenient as they are available on devices that many people use every day. Apps are also interactive, which can allow smartphone and tablet users to learn information in a fun and interesting way.

A successful mobile application requires planning. Though many disability rights organizations may not have technology developers or designers on staff, they can still brainstorm ideas and create a plan for some of the app’s features. Then, they can work with a developer to figure out the best way to make the idea happen.

The document entitled “Introduction to Mobile Application” offers suggestions for how to brainstorm ideas for a mobile app related to disability rights, accessible features to consider when developing a mobile app, and examples of mobile apps from from different countries.

Examples: Disability Rights Related Mobile Apps

City Accessibility Map in Vietnam

DMAP (pronounced De MAP) is a free accessibility map application developed in 2012 by students with disabilities at the Hoa Sen University, with support from a local disability rights organization, Disability Resource and Development (DRD). It identifies more than 1,000 public locations in Ho Chi Minh, including shopping malls, coffee shops, and parks, where accessibility support is available for people with disabilities, especially people using wheelchairs. The app can also provide directions to each accessible location, using either buses or motor vehicles. The app can be updated by any user and is available for Android platforms through the Google Play store.

Electoral Sign Language Lexicon App in Libya

In Libya, people who are Deaf and use sign language struggle to receive information, including important information about elections. To help break that barrier, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) created the first electoral sign language lexicon in the Middle East and North Africa that contains over 300 electoral terms for persons who are Deaf to participate meaningfully in the electoral process. The lexicon–or reference list–supports Deaf communities, sign language trainers, and other interested groups to learn essential electoral signs.

Designed as a simple and easy to navigate resource, the lexicon can now be downloaded as a smart phone application that provides instructional photos and videos of the lexicon’s terms being signed. The app comes in Arabic, English, French, and sign language. It works on Windows, Android, and iOS platforms.

Restaurant Accessibility App in Taiwan

In 2012, OurCityLove – a Taiwanese organization and social enterprise – partnered with disability rights activists to create a “Friendly Restaurant” app that documents the accessibility of restaurants in 12 Taiwanese cities, as well as Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. The app includes a short description of each restaurant and what type of food they offer. Users can rate each restaurant based on their accessibility for persons with physical, visual or hearing disabilities. Over 4,000 restaurants have been rated using the app. It can be downloaded through the Google Play store.

Polling Center Accessibility App in India

In India, Disability Rights Alliance, Tamil Nadu (DRA) has released “Election Audit,” an app that allows users to share information on polling center accessibility. The app asks users a series of questions about features such as the quality of lighting, ramps, and availability of seating areas to determine if the polling station is accessible to people with disabilities. DRA plans to organize workshops for newly registered volunteers to learn how to use the platform. Eventually, it is anticipated that this information might be made available to elections officers to make them aware of barriers that exist in their polling stations. Election Audit can be downloaded through the Google Play store for Android devices, but is currently available only to those who are registered as volunteers with DRA.

Disability Inclusive Political Engagement App in Pakistan

The Special Talent Exchange Program (STEP), a disability rights organization in Pakistan, recently developed an Android mobile application to connect persons with disabilities with information on disability rights in elections. The Disability Inclusive Voter Education (DIVE) app provides information to enable persons with disabilities to learn about their rights and related opportunities in general and specifically to become actively engaged in political life. Through DIVE, people with disabilities, DPOs, and other stakeholders can learn how to take part in elections. DIVE also provides information about the services available in districts throughout the country. The app serves to fill the gap in the availability of information on civic and human rights of persons with disabilities. The project, supported by IFES, is a “one-stop source” for news on elections and voter education information, such as registering as a voter or running for office. The app can be downloaded on Android devices through the Google Play store.

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