Android App Beta Testers Wanted

In order to improve the reliability of our Android App release process we are looking for Beta testers.

If you join the Beta Tester team you will have access to new versions of our Android App before it goes on general release – and the process is all still managed through the Google Play Store so is as secure as the normal install process.

Permissions Screen Error
Oops! Permissions Explanation Screen Error

Our last release made the App unusable for users with Android 6.0 and above that had large text selected on their device. We want to try to avoid this kind of problem in the future and would like your help.

All you need is an Android device and an email address. Just send us an email at app@BlueBadgeParking.com using the email address you use on the Google Play Store letting us know you want to join the Beta team and we’ll get back to you with a link to join the team.

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October Update – more colour

Last month’s update involved a little green ‘s‘.

This month’s update involves colours everywhere.

If you click on the settings icon in the top right of BlueBadgeParking.com you’ll see that we’ve added a new section that allows you to select different colour schemes for the map.

Most of the schemes only involve subtle colour changes, while a couple are a bit more drastic.

That’s not all we’ve been up to, though, and we’ve released this month’s update a bit earlier than usual to allow us to get on with some other stuff – the bones of which are hidden away in this October update (if you’ve been watching our Twitter feed you may have seen a clue as to what’s coming soon).

The colour schemes themselves, though, are part of a bigger plan. We are looking into putting together a map colour scheme (or set of schemes) that make the maps easier to read for users with visual impairments. Some time early next year we plan to canvas opinion on this and we’ll be asking for help to build and test some new schemes that we can include. Or, if you already know of a map colour scheme that makes reading maps easier for users with any kind of visual impairment please let us know.

What are you doing for Access Day 2016 – don’t forget to tell them about the parking…

dad_logo_roundel-2016

Disabled Access Day is an annual event that encourages people with disabilities to get out and try something new. In their own words “It’s super simple. Just visit one new place that you’ve never been to before, whether that’s a café, a museum or a football stadium – the choice is entirely yours!”

Not only is this great for people with disabilities and their families, but it encourages venues and businesses to take notice of what is really needed or those with various disabilities to access and use their establishments – and also allows those businesses to access the enormous spending power of those with special access requirements that might otherwise spend their money elsewhere.

Obviously it would be great if there were no need for such an annual event – if everywhere and every business accommodated those with limited mobility or other access requirements by design, every day of the year. Sadly, that is not the world we live in, so for one day a year we can all do our bit and raise awareness by visiting somewhere new that has an Access Day event arranged, or even contact a venue that doesn’t and encourage them to arrange one.

This year, 2016, Access Day is on 12th March and it is a global event. BlueBadgeParking.com wants to help you get involved either as a venue or a visitor.

Helping Venues

If you are hosting an Access Day event and are promoting it via your website or social media (or even in printed materials), BlueBadgeParking.com has tools to help you.

You may have arranged ramps to access areas with steps, you may have arranged guides to help those with visual impairments. Whatever you have done to prepare for Access Day, one key consideration for a lot of visitors is access to suitable parking.

BlueBadgeParking.com can provide you with links for your website that direct your visitors to a map showing your venue and any disabled parking locations nearby. You can even personalise those links with the name of your venue, or the name of the event you are holding.

Creating a link is as simple as searching for your venue on the map and clicking the share icon in the Info Window, or right clicking and dropping a Share Marker on the location you wish to share. The sharing popup gives you loads of ways to share from simple links and images to social media sharing etc. We’ve even integrated bit.ly link shortening. More info on how these links work can be found here on the feature launch announcement.

Try clicking here for an example showing the Lyric Hammersmith’s audio described performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.lyricEventLink

(If the disabled parking locations near your venue are not shown on our map, it is very easy to add new spaces to the map so that your visitors can arrive informed.)

5steps

Help for visitors

We are encouraging venues and review websites to include links to our free, global online map of disabled / handicap parking spaces so that you can find parking easily.

Our website is mobile friendly and even integrates with your SatNav to give you driving directions straight to your chosen parking close to your destination venue.

Even if a venue hasn’t provided BlueBadgeParking.com links, you can still search our map by venue name, address, postcode or even just an area to see what parking is available near the venue.

Our database isn’t exhaustive by any means, but it is growing all of the time – and if spaces are missing from the map you could always add them to help out future visitors.

BlueBadgeParking.com relies on people just like you to help build our database of parking locations and visiting a new venue is the ideal time to help us to grow that database thereby sharing that information instantly with others around the world.

A date for the diary & a bookmark for your browser

Access Day 2016 is just around the corner now so put 12th March in your diary and plan a day out. The Access Day website has a searchable database of accessible events to help you find something in your area.

While you are at it, bookmark BlueBadgeParking.com and always have access to our latest disabled / handicap parking maps from home or on the move.

February’s BlueBadgeParking.com update – new and enhanced features

We originally planned to release this update in November but as we developed more ideas for enhancements just kept coming.

So, this month we have released a whole host of new features and feature enhancements to the web app.

Info Windows:

  • Info Windows now have direct SatNav links when the web app is used from a smart phone or tablet. Just look for the little car icon.
  • The Info Windows for searched places now contain more information and action buttons (see below as well)

Sharing:

  • Sharing searched places
    lyricEventLinkWhen you search for a place via the search bar you get a little red marker appear on the map showing the location of that place. Clicking the marker brings up an Info Window as always, but now you have a ‘Share’ icon that allows you to share that location and you can even add your own title to the share.
    Adding a title is particularly useful if you are holding an event at a venue, for example. So, if you are holding a conference at a public venue you can use the title to include the name of your conference in the share.
    Give it a go, and note that the titles that you add to your share are only visible to people you share the link with – the titles are not added to the map for other visitors to see!
  • Sharing your location
    When your location is displayed on the map its Info Window now contains a ‘Share’ icon that allows you to share your current location and even add your own title to the share.
    Titles added to ‘Your Location’ shares work in exactly the same way as searched place share titles in that they are only displayed to people that you share your link with  they are not stored on the map for others to see.
  • Ad Hoc Sharing Marker
    screenShot-shareMarkerIf the location you want to share is not searchable and not tied to a particular Blue Badge / disabled / handicap parking location you can use the right-click menu to drop a ‘Sharing Marker’ anywhere on the map.
    A sharing marker gives you the ability to specify a title and address for the location and to share that location with anyone you like.
    Once again, the title and address are only visible to people you share the link with. The shared location marker is not added to the map for other people to see, just those who receive your link.
  • Sharing via AddThis
    When you use the ‘AddThis’ icons across the top of the sharing screen to share any location the share will include more specific information about the location being shared.
    For example, if you share a searched place the place name will be included, and if you add your own event name/title that will be included as well.

General improvements

  • Follow Me / Tracking enhancement
    When ‘Follow Me’ is switched on (i.e. when your location on the map is being constantly updated to show your position in real time) you can now unlock the centering of your location simply by dragging the map. This allows you to display a whole route and monitor your progress towards it.
    To re-enable the auto-centering simply tap the ‘Go To My Location’ button and the Follow Me function will move your location to the center of the screen and maintain it there.screenShot-mapTypeSelector
  • Improved Map/satellite view buttons
    The map and satellite view buttons now have an indicator showing which view is selected.
  • and a few bug fixes…

Android App news

Some of the above features were directly related to the work we are doing on a completely new version of our Android App.

We are completely rewriting the app as a native Android app so that we can bring you a far better app experience including offline functionality. We have a lot to do, and it is taking a long time, but we hope to launch an interim version very soon. This interim version will effectively be an enhanced version of the web app (and as such will not include any offline functionality), but will put you on the release channel for any and all new app features as we launch them.

As always, there’s more going on behind the scenes as well, so watch this space for further announcements.

5 Myths about disabled / handicap parking

  1. BlueBadgeScotland.org PosterYou don’t need a badge / permit if you’re only going to be a couple of minutes.
  2. Putting on your hazard flashers is the equivalent of having a badge / permit.
  3. Your dead Gran’s badge / permit becomes yours to use as you like after you bury her.
  4. If there are no regular spaces, you can just use a disabled / handicap space without a badge / permit – no one will mind.
  5. If you have a big or precious car you can use a nice and wide disabled / handicap space to protect it from scratches.

(Image from BlueBadgeScotland.org)

Promotional leaflets now available

trifoldYou can now download our latest Tri-fold leaflet to print and distribute.

The leaflet explains what BlueBadgeParking is and how you can benefit from it. It serves as a great introduction to our free service.

The leaflet is currently available in two versions – a UK English and an International English version.

(If you’d like to provide a translation of the text for us in another language, please get in touch).

[ A4 English version ] | [ A4 International version ]

Note that these are large – 40MB – downloads as the pdf files are professional print ready. They can, however, be printed on any printer.

The pdf even has a form field on the back where you can fill in your details to show who has printed and distributed the leaflets – thereby promoting your own organisation or just showing that you are supporting BlueBadgeParking.com

Calling all writers

Are you a blogger, journalist or writer for a website or magazine? We need your help…

We are looking for writers to help spread the word about BlueBadgeParking.com and we’ve put together a resource to make it easier for you.

As we have said many times before, we are entirely self funded and entirely free to use so we rely on the good will of our users to get the word out about the site. The more people that know about the site, the faster the database grows and the more useful it becomes for disabled drivers around the world.

If you write for a magazine – print or online – or if you write a travel blog – whether primarily aimed at disabled travelers or not – then YOU can really help us at the same time as informing your readers about a valuable and growing, free, online resource.

We’ve just published our ‘biography‘ – the history of BlueBadgeParking.com – which explains how and why the website was created. We’ve also added a media library of screenshots and photos that will allow you to illustrate any story you write.

There is also a pdf one-sheet which contains the same information formatted and ready for presenting to an editor if you want to give them a heads-up about what you are writing about.

BlueBadgeParking.com is an international database, so it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, you can help get the word out. And of course we’re more than happy to answer any other questions you might have that are not covered in the biography and that will set your article apart from the rest.

And we don’t care how small your readership is… you may have a small and dedicated following of just the kind of people who will benefit from knowing about BlueBadgeParking.com.