By: Shaun Heasley
Google is looking to the public in an effort to make navigating the world easier for people with disabilities.
The search giant is asking users to add information about wheelchair accessibility to entries on Google Maps.
“Because anyone can identify and label wheelchair-friendly locations directly on the map, it’s easy to share this knowledge around the world. But not everyone knows this tool exists, so we want to do more,” wrote Sasha Blair-Goldensohn — a software engineer for Google Maps who uses a wheelchair — in a post this month about the new push. “We’re calling on Local Guides, a community of people who contribute their expertise about places on Google Maps, to add more wheelchair accessibility attributes to the map.”
Google Maps was updated last year to include details on wheelchair accessibility alongside basics like hours, addresses and telephone numbers of businesses and other locations. However, many entries still lack such information.
Google relies on users to submit details about accessibility and has created a one-page guide to help individuals assess locations they visit. To contribute information, users answer five simple questions in a process that Blair-Goldensohn said takes just seconds to complete.
A series of meetups for Local Guides this month in cities around the globe is designed to add accessibility details to a flurry of new Google Maps entries.
“And wheelchair users aren’t the only ones who will benefit,” Blair-Goldensohn noted. “You’ll also be making life easier for families with strollers, seniors with walkers or anyone making plans with a friend who has impaired mobility.”