In their latest product release, Google has added “Accessible Places” as a new feature within Google Maps. Celebrating the recent Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the tech giant is making good on their pledge to build maps usable by everyone, rolling out the new feature world-wide.
The Maps app helps the 130 million wheelchair users in the world find accessible entryways to buildings and notes whether restrooms, seating and parking are also accessible.
Close to 3 million wheelchair users live in the US, many of whom have been helping the tech giant to increase their accessibility information. Google has been working since 2017 to improve accessibility features, relying on the crowdsourced efforts of its Local Guides volunteers. These volunteers give feedback to the company, helping them to double the number of accessibility listings for businesses to more than 15 million in the past 4 years.
“Store owners have also helped, using Google My Business to add accessibility information for their business profiles to help users needing stair-free access find them on Google Maps and Search,” Google says.
In addition, the company is rolling out new features to give iOS users the ability to more easily contribute accessibility information, as is already the case for the Android version of Google Maps. The Android version “has tips for rating accessibility, in case you’re not sure what counts as being ‘accessible.’ We invite everyone to switch on Accessible Places and contribute accessibility information to help people in your community,” Google says.
To access the new feature, users need only turn on the Map app on their smartphone and enable the Accessible Places feature. A wheelchair icon indicates an accessible entryway, or if no accessible access is available, this is also noted. To learn more about the new feature and watch Google’s video, visit the Google blog.