Google Maps Adds Accessibility Features


On Thursday, Google announced a new initiative that will help people with disabilities find more accessible destinations through Google Maps.

In a blog post by Google product managers Shiva Thiagarajan and Rio Akasaka, the search giant said it will now allow users to add whether or not locations are accessible.

“Many of us take for granted simple things like walking through a doorway, taking the stairs to the next floor, or always having a comfortable seat at a restaurant table,” the post says. “But for tens of millions of people worldwide, those very things aren’t possible unless a place has a wheelchair accessible entrance, elevator or accessible seating.”

Those using Google Maps can add information letting other map users know if a venue has wheelchair-accessible entrances, elevators, seating and parking. So far, accessibility information has been added to over 7 million locations.

To use Google’s new feature, open the business listing (either on mobile or desktop), click or tap on the two-line description and then scroll down to the accessibility section. If the business selected doesn’t have any accessibility information, or you want to add more details, you can select “Know what features this place has?” to let others know how accessible the location is.

Google is not the first company to show how accessible locations are, although it is the largest. In May, Ellen DeGeneres gave 12-year-old Alex Knoll, $25,000 on to develop Ability App, similarly designed to help people with disabilities identify accessible locations. Beyond Knoll’s app, AccessNow — created by Maayan Ziv, who lives with muscular dystrophy — as well as AXSmap — created by Jason DeSilva, a filmmaker with multiple sclerosis — also let users view how accessible places are. 

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