Mapping Out Accessibility

Mapping Out Accessibility

Google has recently unveiled a new addition to their maps application to make it easier for wheelchair users to find accessibility information at a glance.  The innovative feature, called Accessible Places, should make it more convenient for wheelchair users planning an outing to a new place and help them avoid venues that aren’t up to accessible standards.

Imagine instead being able to ‘know before you go’ whether a destination is wheelchair accessible, just as effortlessly as looking up the address

Easing Frustrations

The tech giant launched the new feature in a bid to make their map application user-friendly and relevant to both disabled and non-disabled users.  The changes to the system are also designed to ensure that wheelchair accessible locations and routes are prominently displayed and easy to find.  This in turn should help ease some of the frustrations many wheelchair users feel when visiting a new place only to find it ill-equipped for their needs.  The update is part of a larger plan by Google to link together information on accessible businesses and retailers to step-free landmarks, footpaths and public transport options.  This should give disabled travellers the opportunity to use Google Maps to plan out a fully accessible journey before they leave the house.

Google said of the new development: “Imagine instead being able to ‘know before you go’ whether a destination is wheelchair accessible, just as effortlessly as looking up the address.”

Accessibility On The Agenda

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Thanks to information compiled by thousands of users across the world who are known as ‘Local Guides’, Google can build up an accurate picture of exactly how accessible a place is.  The Local Guides are tasked with visiting locations and businesses near them and reviewing their facilities, including examining how accessible the premises are, something which until now, wasn’t take into consideration.  Now that accessibility is on the agenda, the pressure is on businesses to improve their services and facilities as they will now be able to see how they measure up compared to their competitors.

Simple To Use

Accessible Places can be easily switched on or off within the Google Maps application and information is neatly displayed in the form of a wheelchair user icon within the business or location listing.  The symbol shows that visitors can expect a wheelchair friendly experience.  The app can also go into more detail, indicating to potential visitors whether the location has accessible seating, parking and bathrooms.

Accessibility Worldwide

Since the app’s launch nearly two months ago, it has already amassed listings for over 15 million places throughout the UK, US, Australia and Japan.  In the months to come Google hopes to roll it out globally.  With this positive step forward for inclusivity, hopefully more businesses with be encouraged to become more aware and accommodating to their disabled visitors.

Find out how to activate Accessible Places on your device by watching the video below.

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