AccessNow founder and Next 36 alumna Maayan Ziv has been named one of eight Toronto women working to make the city a better place, one motivational speech (and awesome app and tech tutoring program) at a time.
Occupation: CEO and founder of Access Now, an app that maps the accessibility (or lack thereof) of locations like bars, clubs, stores, coffee shops and train stations.
How she makes change: What started as her Master’s thesis project at Ryerson University has grown into an internationally crowd-sourced app that maps more than 16,000 locations spanning 32 countries, telling users whether they’re accessible—or not. Access Now isn’t just for people with disabilities. “Whether you sprain your ankle and are on crutches for a couple weeks, or you want to go somewhere with a grandparent who uses a walker, we all have a relationship with accessibility,” says Maayan, who lives with muscular dystrophy. “Maybe you’re a new parent with a stroller—you’ll suddenly see the subway system differently because you realize only half the stations are accessible.”
Why she loves living in TO: “I’ve had the chance to travel to different cities and every time I come home, I see how special Toronto is. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s something about the diversity of different perspectives and backgrounds, and people coming together.”
What inspires her: “When people reach out to me and share their stories about how the app helped them—it’s those moments that tell me this is working and people are benefiting from it.”
Favourite hobby: Finding the best ramen in Toronto.
Pet peeve: People making assumptions about the accessibility community.
In her past life: She worked in the fashion industry as a photographer.