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Google Maps Is Now Wheelchair Friendly

Dave Parrack 19-12-2016

Google has added information regarding wheelchair accessibility to Google Maps. This means anyone who needs to know whether a specific location offers access to people in wheelchairs can find out simply by checking Google Maps. And it’s all thanks to Google’s famed “20% time”.


Google Maps is an absolute Godsend for everyone who ever ventures outside their front door. It allows you to plan routes, zero in on landmarks (via Google Street View 10 Curiously Geeky Virtual Tours You Can Take On Google Street View Set your bowlines free and travel. Why not use Google Street View to combine the best of travel and geek-dom. Pack your bags then for these ten geeky virtual trips. Read More ), and even discover places to visit, eat, and drink in the local vicinity. This all makes it an essential app on any platform How Does Google Maps Work? Google Maps is used by millions of people every day and you might be one of them, but how does it actually work and how does Google maintain its accuracy so well? Read More .

However, Google Maps hasn’t ever catered to people in wheelchairs or facing other accessibility issues. Until now. With the recent rollout of a new feature, people in wheelchairs will be able to see whether the location they’re due to visit is actually accessible to them.

This information will now be available under the “Amenities” heading for locations around the United States. Wheelchair users How the Internet Has Changed My Life in a Wheelchair The computer-and-Internet combination can remove barriers for the disabled. The right online tools not only unlock previously unavailable solutions to everyday tasks, but truly enhance quality of life and restore independence. Read More , as well as mothers with pushchairs or anyone else who experiences difficulties getting around, can now see, at an instant, whether locations are wheelchair-friendly.

Google Makes Use of Local Guides

This information has been gathered using Google’s Local Guides, who are everyday Google Maps users who answer questions on the places they visit, building up a repository of information. You can chip in yourself by heading to the “Your Contributions” tab on Google Maps on the web or on mobile.

This wheelchair accessibility feature is the brainchild of Rio Akasaka, whose day job is as a product manager for Google Drive Solve Common Google Drive Problems with These Simple Solutions Many Google Drive problems are an easy fix. We look at some of the most common Google Drive problems and how you can troubleshoot them yourself without calling tech support. Read More . However, he dedicates his “20% time” working on accessibility features for Google Maps. “20% time” being a Google initiative allowing employees to work on other projects for 20 percent of the time. Gmail famously started as a “20% time” project.


Akasaka told Business Insider, “Accessibility at Google is a big deal. But it’s often facilitated by whether or not there’s a legal requirement, or some sort of requirement we need to adhere to.” He’s fighting to change that, making sure everyone benefits equally from Google collecting and collating masses of information.

Will you be making use of Google Maps’ new wheelchair accessibility feature? Should more companies take people in wheelchairs into consideration? Should Google enable more employees to take advantage of their “20% time” in this way? Please let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: Kent Slade via Flickr

Related topics: Accessibility, Google, Google Maps.

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  1. S Arnott
    July 21, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Sounds like a great addition. Looking forward to seeing it implemented in other countries.
    I wasn't aware of Google local guides either. Thanks!