For many people living with disability, impromptu nights out are not an option, because extensive research is required to determine whether a venue or activity is accessible.

Shane Hryhorec said he enjoyed being an active member of the community but found the lack of accessibility at venues a constant challenge.

“I get tired of going to restaurants [to find] the accessible rest room has been turned into a storeroom,” he said.

“People have anxiety about going to venues because they’re worried they’re going to get there and be met with a staircase or attitudes that don’t understand people with disability.”

Mr Hryhorec was so fed up with the lack of inclusive venues, he created his own — but six months after opening, the fully inclusive and accessible Port Adelaide site closed its doors to regular trading.

Shane Hryhorec says he’s “tired” of going out only to find the venue isn’t accessible.(ABC News: Trent Murphy)

In a post on Facebook, Mr Hryhorec said the business was forced to cease its regular Friday and Saturday night operations due to a “huge increase” in costs.

The venue will remain open for events and functions, and Mr Hryhorec said he hoped to re-open in the future, but its closure has resulted in even fewer accessible venue options for people living with a disability.

Lily Durkin, who lives with short stature, said routine occurrences while out and about – such as paying the bill at a restaurant – could become “stressful” experiences.

“I don’t know if the bar is going to be really high up and if the servers are going to be able to see me,” she said.

Lily Durkin enjoys going out and about, but says it can be a challenge to find accessible venues.(Supplied)

Ms Durkin said simple changes by businesses could make a significant difference to inclusivity.

“These days, EFTPOS machines come off the hook,” she said.

“A lot of the time without even realising it, staff bring the machine more to my height so I can tap and I can pay.

“It actually turns what could have been a negative experience into a positive one, but the server or the waiter wouldn’t have even realised.”

Ms Durkin is the project lead of a peer group for young people with disability called Enabled Youth Disability Network (EYDN) at advocacy organisation JFA Purple Orange.

“At EYDN we hear a lot about inaccessibility with our members,” she said.

She cited issues with physical access such as heavy doors and stairs.

“But there’s also sensory needs as well — if things are really too loud or the space is too consuming, that can be really difficult,” she said.

Ms Durkin said another challenge was simply finding information about the accessibility of venues.

“It can be really isolating having a disability and trying to find a space,” she said.

“You can be googling for hours and hours and hours and spending so much time trying to find an accessible venue.”

App paving the way to accessibility

To fill the information gap, an app using crowd-sourced data was developed in collaboration with the South Australian government.

Pavely was co-created by Kate Meade, who was frustrated by the hours she spent searching for information on accessible services and venues for her son.

Kate Meade, pictured with her son Chester and their puppy Allan, co-created an app after becoming frustrated while trying to find suitable venues.(Supplied)

The former radio executive producer worked on the app with the Department of Human Services and Adelaide-based tech startup Moonshine Laboratory.

It allows users to rate and review businesses based on accessibility features such as the availability of ramps, hearing loops and assistance animal policies.

“At the moment, there are green pins that are loaded into the app, and they are places that people with disabilities, their carers and families have dropped in to say these places are awesome,” Ms Meade said.

“The second part of the app is when you need to find an accessible toilet — every toilet is now loaded in there, in all of Australia.”

Human Services Minister Nat Cook says the app has also been useful for people visiting from interstate.(ABC News: Guido Salazar)

Human Services Minister Nat Cook said the app has been downloaded by about 2,000 people since it was released in 2022.

“The beauty of the Pavely app is that … it provides the ability for everybody to provide information and feedback about the accessibility of our state,” she said.

Ms Meade said she hoped the app would make South Australia “the most accessible state in the country”.

“Our next step is to take it Australia-wide,” she said.

‘That simple step provides support’

While there have been other moves to make information more readily available, such as the ‘Accessible Places’ feature on Google Maps — which, when turned on, allows users to see if a venue has an accessible entrance, seating, rest room or parking — there is still a long way to go, Ms Durkin said.

She wants businesses to display accessibility information — about, for example, lift or ramp access and sensory-friendly spaces — on their websites and social media.

Lily Durkin works with the Enabled Youth Disability Network, and says members often cite issues with accessibility.(Supplied)

“When I’m looking for a cafe, not only do I look at the food and go, ‘Oh yeah, that’s good, I’m going to get that’, I’m also looking for the accessibility of that venue and of that business,” she said.

“A lot of the time, unfortunately, I have to really dig into the photos and see if there’s a ramp anywhere or see if there’s stairs, and more often that not I find it quite difficult to find that accessibility.

“But even if you had a pinned post on your Instagram or in your bio, just as you would trading hours, if you can just pop in ‘this venue is wheelchair-accessible’ or ‘this venue is sensory-friendly’ — that just takes so much work away.

“Doing that simple step just provides that support, that inclusion for the disability community.”

Ms Durkin said even if a business was neither accessible nor working towards accessibility, they could put that information online.

“That way the person with a disability can make that decision and decide whether they want to navigate that space,” she said.