Google Maps now shows wheelchair accessibility info for locations

Adam Westlake - Dec 17, 2016
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Google Maps now shows wheelchair accessibility info for locations

Google Maps is already a lifesaver for many of us, with the app spitting out locations with just a few taps and keeping us from getting lost with detailed directions. But now it can be even more vital for the millions of people in wheelchairs in the US. Now Google Maps will display wheelchair accessibility information for locations, right alongside details like store hours or dining options, under the “amenities” section.

This small change has the benefit of aiding not only those in wheelchairs, but the elderly and those with strollers as well. But what’s interesting is that this feature came about not as a full-fledged Google effort, but from the company’s aging “20% policy,” which allowed a handful of employees to spend a portion of their working hours on side projects.

It’s this 20% policy that was used to create some of Google’s biggest services, including Gmail, Google News, and AdSense. The effort to include wheelchair accessibility information on Google Maps was led by Rio Akasaka, a product manager on Google Drive. He and a small team of contributors have spent the last year developing and adding the accessibility guidelines to the app.

While the feature is now live, it’s far from covering all locations, as Google relies on collecting the data from “local guides,” or those users who share information on locations in exchange for Drive space and beta features.

In an interview with Business Insider, Akasaka mentions that the way Google handles accessibility information is usually “facilitated by whether or not there’s a legal requirement, or some kind of requirement we need to adhere to.”

SOURCE Business Insider


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