AUSTIN, Texas -- An Austin mother is using technology to be the voice for the special needs community.
Veronica Martinez, who has an autistic eight-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son with severe allergies, created Better Beehive Project.
It’s a crowd-sourced review site that highlights differently abled friendly businesses and organizations. Similar to Yelp, you type in the business name and the location pops up. It will ask you to leave a “buzz” or a “sting” then comments about your experience and submit. “Buzz” indicates a good experience and a “Sting” indicates a bad one.
Martinez said she felt her children weren't always welcomed or treated fairly at certain businesses.She explained in one incident while calling a restaurant ahead of time to inform them of her son's allergies to eggs, Martinez felt the staff thought she was being overly sensitive. But when the food arrived, her son was somehow exposed to the eggs and was sent to the emergency room.
"That's a life or death experience of my voice not being heard, as his mother advocating for him--being pushed to the side," Martinez said.
The entrepreneur believes there's also a stigma surrounding her daughter, people not truly understanding the spectrum.
"I felt it at schools, in the community…often times people suffer in silence and it adds shame to that,” she explained. “Whenever you are able to express what happened it is very empowering.”
Martinez is an advocate for children’s mental health as well as a board member and volunteer at several non-profits in the Austin area.
She says showing accessibility and inclusion are important to families
“You have other parents who are like, “Hey, I don't like that you were treated that way. I want to stand behind you,’” Martinez said.
Although the site is still new, the feedback she's received is overwhelming.The mother of two says once they get more established, the site will transfer over to an official free app for both iPhone and Android users.
"The community is rallying behind you, businesses are rallying behind you, and then this child can take the next step of their lives with confidence,” Martinez added.
She hopes the site will promote diversity and help better educate establishments in acceptance of all groups.