As we ring in the new year, what are some of your new year resolutions? Spend more time with loved ones, find a new hobby, exercise? What about adding 'travel more' to that list? With Google's new maps feature specifically designed to assist those with mobility limitations, traveling in a wheelchair doesn't have to be a nuisance. Continue reading to discover how these new features can help mobility users easily identify wheelchair accessible routes, businesses, public transits, stair-free walking paths, and so much more!
What Are the New Accessibility Features
Google has added five new features to its Maps application that includes identifying wheelchair accessible walking paths, stair-free navigation routes, more accessibility labels, a disability identity attribute for businesses, and a screen reader function for those with visual impairments.
The Benefits of Google’s New Accessibility Features
Although these features may not seem significant, they can be for someone struggling with mobility issues. Think of when an able-bodied person plans a trip. Often times the only concern is how long it will take to get there, will there be rest stops along the way, what’s the best route to take, and where to stay when you arrive. For someone with mobility issues all of those things are considered but they also must consider if the best route is wheelchair accessible, or if the rest stop has an accessibility entrance and/or bathroom, and will the destination have accessibility accommodations. There’s nothing more frustrating than planning a trip only to find out the location you are going to isn’t accessible.
But now that Google has enabled more accessibility labels and identifies businesses who are either disability owned or disability driven, when researching destinations, you can easily check Google Maps to see if that business identifies as a place that promotes accessibility needs.
If you rely on public transportation to get around, Google Maps has also created a feature that allows you to easily see which routes and modes of transportation are accessible. This can be a game-changing feature for wheelchair users because often times obstacles that prevent wheelchair access aren’t discovered until it’s too late. Being able to identify if a sidewalk is accessible or if stairs will be encountered along the way before you go, can make for a better and more comfortable travel experience.
How to Use the New Accessibility Features
There are a few different ways you can enable the accessibility features on Google Maps, under the settings menu you can enable ‘Accessible Places’ to always show wheelchair accessible places whenever you use Google Maps, or you can start a navigation to a destination then click options and select wheelchair accessible routes.
If you’d like to join the movement in promoting more accessibility places, Google has made it easy for you to submit feedback in the app. You can also indicate whether a business, location, or transportation method is accessible.