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- Google Maps is adding wheelchair-accessible routes to Google Maps in cities.
- The feature will make it easier for people with access needs to get around.
- It’s launching in a handful of cities including New York, London, and Sydney, before rolling out more widely.
Google Maps is making a major change to help people with access needs: It’s adding wheelchair-accessible routes to Google Maps.
When navigating cities, users will now be able to select “wheelchair accessible” as an option, and the app will show routes to the destination that the user should be able to navigate safely. It’s similar to how you can already choose to request route with less walking or fewer transfers.
The news was announced on Thursday in a blog post by product manager Rio Akasaka.
“In city centers, buses and trains are often the best way to get around, which presents a challenge for people who use wheelchairs or with other mobility needs. Information about which stations and routes are wheelchair friendly isn’t always readily available or easy to find,” he wrote.
“To make public transit work for everyone, today we’re introducing ‘wheelchair accessible’ routes in transit navigation to make getting around easier for those with mobility needs.”
The feature is first launching in London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney, and the company has plans to roll it out in other cities in the future.
In recent years, Google has done increasing work to help people with access needs use Google Maps. As Business Insider reported in December 2016, a group of employees — Rio Akasaka among them — used their “20% time” to add a feature that tells users if locations listed in the app are accessible via wheelchair.
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” the product manager explained at the time, saying he wants to make sure that “even those with access needs” benefit from this.