By Habiba Iqbal
Google Maps is adding wheelchair-accessible routes to Google Maps in a handful of cities including New York, London, and Sydney, before rolling out more widely.
This is a welcomed feature that is set to benefit a range of people from wheelchair users to everyday parents with strollers. Wheelchair accessibility is an extremely important issue worldwide due to the sheer number of people for whom its essential to be able to get around.
In fact, it’s estimated they are 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK, alone. Just like any other folk: they have jobs to get to and love to meet up with their friends for coffee. However, they’re constantly faced with this added struggle of actually being able to access the places they want to go to and this is especially hard to do independently. By rolling out this feature, Google Maps will help restore this independence to its users.
To develop the feature Goggle will be collaborating with the Transit agencies in the relevant cities and then set to work to add additional locations in the coming months. In addition, to official agencies Google will take an integrative approach by also incorporating information it obtains from its Local Guides programme to make sure even the details are accurate i.e if there’s a wheelchair accessible restroom or a step-free entrance.
To begin with the feature will be introduced in major cities which include: New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney, Mexico city and Boston.
It will be rolled out across android services, iphones and on desktop. In london, the app will seek to deliver information on The Underground, Bus Service, The Tram Networks, DLR and information for the london overground will be added at a later date.
“Getting around the London network on a restricted basis takes a lot of knowledge and confidence… For someone that does not have that knowledge it can be quite daunting. However having accessibility information in an app the same as everyone else is great.”- lan Benson, chair of disability access group Transport for All.
Overall, Google has been applauded by many for having the initiative to add such a feature. It is set to boost the confidence of many people by encouraging them to get out and explore their cities rather than feel isolated by their individual struggle.
Google Maps has essentially equipped every person with the tools and easily accessible information-they need to have a comfortable day out!