Better Late than Never: Google Maps is Now Wheelchair-Friendly

2:24 pm
0 Brooke Stevens
Google Maps’ new feature is another step towards a handicap-accessible reality.

Looking for places with wheelchair access, and having difficulty finding where to go? Google Maps’ new feature now allows you to see whether a certain location is wheelchair-accessible! Sounds strangely obvious, doesn’t it? Well, that’s just the thing: as it turns out, it’s really not. Although on the face of it, this sounds like a long-overdue extension to Google’s widely used service – the new feature was only added now, on the verge of 2017.

It appears that in 21st century reality, with all its wonderful technologies and inventions, the notion of all-encompassing disability-friendliness should have been a no-brainer. Sadly, however, we often find this not to be the case. That’s exactly where Google Maps’ new feature comes in.

The mastermind behind this much-needed addition to the popular app is Rio Akasaka, a product manager on the company’s cloud service, Google Drive. Akasaka and his team worked on the new accessibility feature as part of Google’s “20% time” policy, enabling Google workers to dedicate 20% of their work time to the development of side projects. Google receives its information regarding wheelchair-accessibility via its Local Guides – Google Maps users who voluntarily respond to the app’s questions regarding locations they visit. Questions about wheelchair-accessibility were added to the app earlier this year, to help create a reliable and more relevant database. Now, with over a million answers, Google is finally displaying the information to its public of users.

Google Maps
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The way the new feature works is extremely simple: all you have to do is look up a certain place on Google Maps, and the accessibility information will appear under the Amenities section. Other than helping people with disabilities, it should also aid parents with prams, or people using canes. One can also add information by clicking the “Suggest Changes” section, or go to the “Your contributions” section on the app to answer questions regarding places they’ve been to, and contribute to widen the scope of information it offers.

Other than suggesting a simple, yet crucial enhancement to a popular service such as Google Maps, and improving the lives of numerous people in the process, the new accessibility feature does something else, which is no less important: it brings hope. In a world that has a long way to go to fulfil the dreamed upon vision of mutual love and assistance, a feature like this is definitely a great start.



Founded in 1998 as a search-engine, Google has since then developed and expanded into a variety of digital products and services. With Gmail, Google+, Google Drive, and Google Docs, Google has proven itself capable of providing high-quality and engaging services in all the new spheres the technological age has created.