By Gary Anderson

The Accessibility Map for smartphones has been expanded across more than 600 towns and cities in Russia ©Sochi 2014Creators of the Samsung accessibility map mobile application have announced that the service continues to be expanded and updated across Russia in the wake of the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi.

First launched in October 2012, the app was designed to allow disabled smartphone users to obtain information in a quick and easy way about city amenities, with a barrier-free environment in and around Sochi during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

It also provided information on more than 13,000 locations in more than 500 towns and cities across Russia with barrier-free facilities, and creators of the application now say the service has been updated to include information on more than 16,450 locations in more than 600 towns and cities across the country.

During the development of the accessibility map of Sochi, both Russian and English versions, were made available and administrated by various community organisations and volunteer centres.

Worldwide Olympic Partner Samsung Electronics developed the app in partnership with Sochi 2014 and the "United Country" Foundation for People with Disabilities.

Russian Paralympic swimming champion Olesya Vladikina was one the stars who helped to launch the application in the build-up to the Games, along with six-time Paralympic Nordic skiing champion Sergey Shilov.

"More and more people with disabilities in Russia are taking up sport," said Shilov.

"A lot of work has been done recently on creating a barrier-free environment.

"This is an important indicator of a society's maturity and values.

"I'm delighted that by offering innovative technological solutions, major global companies like Samsung are also giving important support to the disabled."

Former Paralympic champions Sergey Shilov and Olesya Vladikina helped launch the Accessibility Map in the build-up to the Sochi Paralympics, where they were torchbearers in the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images Former Paralympic champions Sergey Shilov and Olesya Vladikina helped launch the accessibility map for the Sochi Paralympics, where they were Torchbearers in the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

Russia sent its largest ever delegation to a Paralympic Games in Sochi where the 78-strong team won a record 80 medals including 30 gold.

Another goal of the accessibility map is to help change the attitudes of the Russian public towards disability sport and people with impairments.

When the country hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, authorities decided against staging the Paralympics as they claimed they had no one with an impairment in their country.

That attitude is changing, and along with legislation that now requires all public places to be equipped for people with limited abilities, the accessibility map aims to provide the estimated 13 million people in Russia living with a disability the opportunity to access thousands of barrier-free locations.

"Our task is to raise awareness about this project to provide the necessary conditions for independent living for people with disabilities," said Mikhail Terentyev, secretary general of the Russian Paralympic Committee.

To use the application, people enter a city and street and accessible locations will be immediately displayed on the screen.

Using filters, locations of a particular category such as schools or Paralympic sports clubs can be found.

"Positive changes are in place," said Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and chief executive of Sochi 2014. 

"Universal accessibility standards, developed in the framework of the Sochi 2014 Project, serve as an example for all Russian regions.

"The unique Internet project 'accessibility map' is the best evidence."

The application has received a number of awards including the Runet Prize in 2012,  the Golden Drum 2013 and the Silver Archer prize at this year's SABRE Awards.

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