Google’s latest update to its Maps service now adds wheelchair accessible locations to its list of features. The new feature will now tell you whether a location is suitable for people with access needs, but is currently only available to users in the United States for now, according to a new report from Business Insider.
The report revealed that a group of developers and managers at Google spent their ’20 percent time’ to add wheelchair-accessibility feature on the Maps app.
The accessibility feature for wheelchair users came into being as a result of Google’s ‘20% Project’ wherein its employees are encouraged to spend 20 percent of their time on side projects which are not related to their main work.
One of the contributors to the new Google Maps feature, Rio Akasaka, said that accessibility is “a big deal” at Google. “But it’s often facilitated by whether or not there’s a legal requirement, or some sort of requirement we need to adhere to,” he said.
“Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” Akasaka added.
A place’s wheelchair-accessibility is displayed as an amenity in Google Maps. The map tool already displays information about a place’s address, operating hours, how busy it is, and user reviews. Because the feature relies on user-submitted data, not every place has its accessibility listed in the Google Maps app. But the list is growing. So far, we hope this accessibility feature will expand to Canada in the future.