Google Maps app to include information on wheelchair access

It was recently announced that the Google Maps app, designed to help navigate and explore the world, will now include information about which public transport stations and routes are wheelchair friendly.

Starting in March with London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston and Sydney, Google is aiming to add additional cities over the rest of 2018 to bring more wheelchair accessible routes to Google Maps.

It is available on Android and iPhone devices. To access these wheelchair accessible routes:

  1. Type your required destination into Google Maps.
  2. Tap “Directions” then select the public transportation icon.
  3. Then tap “Options” and under the Routes section, you’ll find “wheelchair accessible” as a new route type.

When you select this option, Google Maps will show you a list of possible routes that take mobility needs into consideration.  The London information covers the underground, bus, DLR and tram networks and it will be added for the overground at a later date.

Improved accessibility and Street View information

This new feature for public transport follows on from another initiative last July. Then Google allowed users to add whether or not locations tagged on its maps are accessible for wheelchair users. To date accessibility information has been added for more than 7 million locations worldwide.

To use this feature:

  1. Open the business listing
  2. Tap on the two-line description
  3. Scroll down to the accessibility section.
  4. 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 has also been capturing and updating their ‘Street view’ images of public transport stations as well as city centres so that wheelchair users can check out a location ahead of visiting it to ensure there are no major accessibility problems.

Ellis Palmer, a BBC reporter and wheelchair user said. “Google’s creation can be a push forward for access in the capital, but only if we recognise there’s still a long way to go before disabled people are able to get around the city the same as their able-bodied counterparts.”

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