A mother in Texas is helping families find businesses that cater to people with disabilities, through her new Yelp-style website, the Better Beehive Project.

New App Lets People With Disabilities Rate Businesses

Veronica Martinez has two children, an eight-year-old daughter on the autism spectrum and a six-year-old son who has severe food allergies. But as thousands of other parents have learned, Martinez quickly realized that some establishments are more welcoming to children with special needs.

In an interview with KHOU11, Martinez describes one particularly troubling experience. Before heading out with her children to eat one day, she called the restaurant beforehand to tell the staff that her son has a serious allergy to eggs. The staff, though, seemed to think Martinez was being too “sensitive.” When the family got their food, her son was exposed to eggs, experiencing a severe allergic reaction. He had to be rushed to the emergency room. “That’s a life or death experience of my voice not being heard,” Martinez says, saying she had been “pushed to the side.”

Her daughter also experiences challenges, Martinez continued, noting the social stigma around autism spectrum disorders. “I felt it at schools, in the community.” Wouldn’t it be great if parents of children with special needs had a way to share their experiences with other families? “Often times people suffer in silence and it adds shame to that,” she says.

Buzz Or Sting?

To break that silence, Martinez started the Better Beehive Project, a website that allows parents and adults with special needs to rate local businesses, schools, hospitals and doctors’ offices based on how welcoming they are to members of the disability community.

iPhone App

Using the service is easy. Just search for a business at betterbeehive.herokuapp.com/ and give it a “Buzz” or “Sting.” Buzz means you and your family had a positive, inclusive experience; Sting means the opposite. Then write a little review, providing your comments and note how you are related to the person with special needs. Right now, the Better Beehive Project is a website, but soon, Martinez hopes to transfer her platform to a free app for iPhone and Android.

The point, Martinez says, is to help children “take the next step of their lives with confidence.” A big part of that step is getting a sense of how you’ll be treated before you enter a business, school or medical facility. Just as important, families and people with disabilities will be “empowered,” Martinez believes, by having a special place to express themselves in a constructive way that helps others.

Calm Boxes For Children Impacted By Natural Disasters

Alongside the Yelp-like service, the Better Beehive Project is helping the special needs community in other ways. In the wake of several devastating hurricanes, the Project has begun to create “Disaster Relief Calm Boxes” for people with disabilities who have been affected by natural disasters.

Developed in collaboration with Epiphany In Education, a company that focuses on creating coping tools for children “of all ages and abilities,” each Calm Box includes a number of games and toys that can help kids manage recent trauma and calm often-overwhelming sensory input. A board game subscription service, which will allow families to test out new games, is also on the way.

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