How handicap friendly is San Antonio?

Man creates Handi App to rate places, share information about accessibility

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter, Lee Carpio - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - How handicap friendly is San Antonio? 

A local man is aiming to make it better for people with disabilities by raising awareness with his social media pages Handi App. 

On those pages, Paul Puga rates local spots on how handicap accessible they are so other handicapped people can be better informed. When he visits locations, he is looking at every detail. 

"Steps, objects on the ground, inclines, entrances, gravel, pavement, cobblestone," said Puga, the co-creator of Handi App.

These are the simple things that Paul said he used to take for granted. He started using a wheelchair in 2012 due to multiple sclerosis.

Paul said he and his wife, Tatiana, used to live a very active life. 

"Going camping, going out to bars, restaurants, anything," Puga said.

Puga said when he became dependent on his wheelchair to get around, he felt trapped and scared and didn't want to leave his house for errands.

"The tasks became daunting," Puga said.

Which is why in September of 2018, Puga and his wife launched the social media pages Handi App on Facebook and Instagram. 

The couple post pictures of places in San Antonio and talk about the accessibility for people with disabilities.

One of Puga's favorite places to visit when he wants to kick back and relax is the Pearl because he said there are several elements that make it handicap friendly.

"Ramps, level flooring, inclines. Those are things I'm constantly looking at," Puga said.

He said the Pearl is one of the few places where he can ride on the grass.

"Nice little park area. It's level enough and the grass is artificial turf, so I'm able to go on it with ease," Puga said.

Puga said high bar tops and tables can be a struggle for him. Lower spaces are ideal for him. He points out that other handicap people might need high tables, so a mix of tables is ideal.

He and his wife said it's their goal to create a database with this type of information for others just like him.

"Why should we have to work so hard to just live your life normally?" Tatiana Puga said. "If we are able to share that information with other people and help people take back the world that they lost, that's a good thing."

Other places that Handi App recommends in San Antonio for accessibility are Top Golf, Andretti Indoor Carting & Games, the Alamo and Buddy Calk Park. 

The Pugas mostly focus on places in San Antonio, but anytime they travel they always rate the places they visit.

The couple is aiming to have the Handi App website finished by the end of the summer and the app by the end of the year. The Pugas' goal with the app is to have users post and rate places from across the city and nation.

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