Google Maps now shows wheelchair accessible locations

Good news everybody! One of the most popular map apps on Android and iOS now has an excellent feature: Wheelchair Accessible locations!

Google Maps will now list wheelchair accessibility alongside information like traffic and store hours. The new addition makes using the app more suitable for people with disabilities, as well as parents with strollers and the elderly. 

“This is a very welcome addition and many will welcome this focus on providing an app that helps the disabled community in a practical way” said wantmyspacetakemydisability’s Chris Welch

A team of Google employees who were led by Google Drive product manager Rio Akasaka, took full advantage of a dying company policy to make Google Maps accessible for people with physical disabilities. The famous 20 percent policy, which was announced by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 2004, encourages employees to spend up to 20 percent of their working hours concocting personal projects that might benefit the company.

And we are grateful that they’ve finally considered adding a feature that helps the disabled community.

Akasaka spent the last year working with a team of contributors to develop accessibility guidelines for the app. He collected information on accessibility from users of Google’s “Local Guides,”who contribute information about locations in exchange for access to beta features and free Google Drive storage. The new accessibility feature was only added after Google had collected months of data from users. So if you’re not involved in the programme as a guide, now may be the time to sign up and help collect accurate data!

But why did it take Google so long to get around to something do beneficial to those with poor mobility or disabilities?

In an interview with Business Insider, Akasaka said accessibility is important at Google, “but it’s often facilitated by whether or not there’s a legal requirement, or some kind of requirement we need to adhere to.”

To utilise this new feature and see if a location is wheelchair accessible by clicking on the description and looking under the “amenities” tab. 

We have yet to test the feature as it is not yet available for all locations.

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