Using open data and crowd sourcing our mission is to make Philadelphia a more accessible city that welcomes and embraces people of all ages and abilities.

We are "building with, not for" and doing our best to ensure that our meetup spaces and tools are accessible. CityCoho is completely wheelchair accessible including the restrooms; Devnuts' entrance is wheelchair accessible and the restroom is large and on the same level, but there are no grab bars. The seating at both spaces is wheelchair friendly.

An accessible website/app is our number one priority. We value all contributions that put user accessibility as the top consideration when creating or modifying user interface elements. See We plan to include more help and information on our GitHub readme page.

Here is a link to our Github readme page, which explains how to get set up with our project/code:-

We also regularly meet online and at other spaces throughout the week.

The following skills are valued by the project.

  • Requirements gathering; we're reaching out to users to find out what is really needed and building a list of prioritized features.
  • Software developers, tester.
  • UI/Design
  • Front-end Javascript/Leaflet/Bootstrap
  • Stats and Geo
  • Ruby and MongoDB
  • Testing skills
  • REST with Ruby/Sinatra

    Contact James

About Unlockphilly

Project Activity

How James Tyack’s civic app has made SEPTA more accessible

Take it from James Tyack, who led a civic app project called Unlock Philly where users could report accessibility issues on SEPTA.

“When we first started recording and sharing the [elevator] outages, we saw up to 10 outages at a time with some elevators broken for two months,” he wrote. “The stats show an improvement over the past year: it’s rare to see more than one or two concurrent outages and they’re fixed quickly.”

Read the full article on…Published

Update #15

Unlockphilly user feedback

I just wanted to share a really nice email I received about Unlockphilly (names removed) from someone who visited Philadelphia with her niece. She found out about this site at an online forum 'GenPhilly Network'.

> "Your site was so amazingly helpful for my niece and her family! It was really easy to use and great that everything was in map form. It was so nice that [name] got to pick from the options rather than picking a place to go and then checking it out and deciding against it for accessibility reasons. She is 14, and it was a great trip for her!! I haven’t heard how their experience was in NYC yet, but I know her dad was hoping there was something similar there. Anyway, thank you for such a great tool – it was highly recommended by several folks on the list, as well!!"

Update #13

We'll be at "Complete Parks: A discussion on ensuring our public spaces are accessible to people of all ages and abilities"

"As part of LOVE Your Park Week, please join us for a lively forum to discuss how accessible parks and innovative programming can directly contribute to the health and well-being for citizens of all ages and abilities."

Find out more and register for the event

Update #12

We're trialling a new webapp that will help us crowdsource accessibility data about local places. We've been working with Austin Seraphin, a web accessibility consultant to ensure that our new app and questionnaire is completely accessible to blind and visually impaired people.

This weekend we're kicking off a week-long trial of the app and will be sharing the results.

You can find our data collection 'Map4Access' trial app here:- (Map4Access Trial App)

Accessibility in an App

Unlock Philly aims to improve traveling and living in the city for people with mobility issues

Ather Sharif, who had moved to Philadelphia last year for treatment for a spinal cord injury, knows how important it is for people with mobility issues to plan when using public transportation. Though he was impressed with the accessibility of SEPTA’s subways and buses, he saw how quickly regular maintenance issues–a broken elevator at a subway station or construction blocking a pathway–could derail travel plans….

Read the full article on…Published

Why Hackers Should Care About Accessibility

One of the main projects worked on at the hackathon was Unlock Philly, a data site centered around accessibility mapping. It has a variety of tools for people with disabilities to smartly commute around the city, including maps of accessible train stations in Philadelphia, an accessible trip planner, data visualizations of the broken accessibility elevators in stations, and videos to help people with anxiety navigate each station remotely.

Read the full article on…Published

Update #6

Other news:-

  • We're now tracking elevator outage start/end times and building a history of outages by stop/station. It's possible to see length of time since outage began and once we get more history built up we'd like to plot something similar to GitHub timeline graph that shows history of outages by station.
  • Today is global accessibility awareness day; there is an event tonight at Comcast and at the end of the month a #hack4access Hackathon where we'll be hacking on new features
  • We'd like to build features into the site to make the map accessible for blind people; if anyone has ideas or would like to get involved, get in touch!

Update #5

Unlock Philly in Philly

Last week NBC10, this week Philly. People are noticing us and want to help us improve access for everyone using transit and services in Philly

Update #4

Welcoming Chris Ivey and Kevin Lee to the project!

Kevin Lee and Chris Ivey are ramping up on all things Unlock Philly and already closing down some bugs and features in Github. Last night we hacked in West Philly Starbucks and released changes to Heroku. Watch this space for exciting new features that help out Philly's mass transit riders! Philly: Use this app to find wheelchair-accessible SEPTA stations

The elevator at SEPTA’s 8th and Market station didn’t work for more than a month.

Civic hacker James Tyack noticed.

Tyack, a software developer at King of Prussia-based Health Market Science, pays attention to accessibility issues, as NBC10 reported. It’s why he built Unlock Philly, an app that shows the SEPTA subway and high-speed line stops that are wheelchair-accessible and have elevators.

Read the full article on…Published

Elevating Accessibility on Mass Transit

Hoping to give people who rely escalators and elevators to get in and out of stations a better picture of the accessibility issues they’re facing, Tyack created an app called Unlock Philly.

Available through web browsers on computers and smartphones, the app automatically culls together accessibility information at SEPTA rail stations — including issues like broken elevators — onto an easy-to-read map. That data comes from SEPTA’s website.

Read the full article on…Published

Update #1

New accessibility project kicked off at Transit Apps For Philly to help users of transit that have previously found it difficult to get around. Please read about the project and come help if interested!