Helpful Update: Google Maps Is Now More Disabled-Friendly
News of Google Maps: the company has made it easier to plan routes for people with disabilities. This Google feature became available in May 2020. After the update, a special attribute in the application indicates the suitability of places for people with disabilities. Google Maps is accessible not in all countries, but the list is constantly growing.
Google Maps Accessibility: Where the New Function Already Works
The disabled accessibility attribute is already available for over 30 million Google Map places. The function itself works in the USA, Japan, the UK, Australia, but the list of countries is regularly updated. The goal of Google’s mapping service is to collect information on more than 500 million adapted locations around the world.
The update has made the service product more useful not only for people with disabilities but also for parents with strollers and the elderly. The new Google Maps function will also be valuable for those whose work is related to the transportation of heavy objects.
World Statistics of Users With Disabilities
According to the World Health Organization, 1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, have some form of disability. Out of them, about 75 million use a wheelchair every day. The prevalence of disability in recent years is higher than the WHO estimated for the 1970s. According to the data, at that time, the percentage of people with disabilities was no more than 10%. Rates are rising due to rising levels of chronic diseases and more accurate methodologies used to measure disability. It again speaks to the value of the new Google Maps feature. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when it is critical to know the location of adapted pharmacies, grocery stores, and food outlets before going there.
Difficulties with building routes and independent movement around the city for people with disabilities are largely associated with:
- lack of ramps;
- unsuitable elevators in buildings;
- unsuitable toilets;
- lack of information on wheelchair-accessible locations.
For example, some areas of Seattle do not have sidewalks. There are also a lot of streets where the slope is 10% or even 20%. The red roads in the screenshot show routes with an incline of 10% or higher:
Back in 2018, the Taskar Center for Accessible Technologies at the University of Washington introduced a map that allows pedestrians with reduced mobility to plan routes.
The ability to move independently and choose locations for leisure based on Google Maps places is an excellent solution not only for people with disabilities but also for business owners. Already, thanks to crowdsourcing and entrepreneurs, more than 30 million adapted locations are available on Maps. And the number is growing.
The Concept of Wheelchair-Accessible Locations
What makes a place considered to be adapted for people with disabilities? How to create conditions for this group of the population?
- Entrance: in the presence of steps, the entrance to the building must be equipped with a permanent or retractable ramp.
- Toilet: the width of the entrance and the cabin is more than one meter. The toilet itself can be reached without using steps.
- Seating places: There should be no stairs on the way to them. Is the institution equipped with high tables (for example, bar counters), and is there no way to comfortably place an order? Then the place does not meet the criteria.
- Parking, as well as pick-up and drop-off zones for passengers: have special markings, exclude the movement of cars parked behind. The surface intended for movement must be flat, non-slip, without seams. Loose materials (sand, gravel) are not allowed.
- Elevator: there should be enough space to accommodate a wheelchair.
More detailed information can be found in the Help section of Google Maps.
Searching for Adapted Locations on Android and iOS
How to read Google Maps to find adapted locations? An accessibility icon on Google Maps will indicate if people with reduced mobility can use an adapted toilet, seating, parking lot, or elevator at a selected location.
Step 1. Open the Google Maps app on your Android or iOS device.
Step 2. Tap your Google account photo (the picture in the profile circle), tap Settings, then go to Accessibility settings.
Step 3. Activate the “Available Places” function.
Application users can also independently edit the company’s accessibility attributes if they do not match the declared data or contain incomplete information. To update Google places, use this manual for your smartphone, tablet, and other Android or iOS devices.
How Do I Add More Places to Google Maps in 5 Steps?
You can now add more places to Google if the wheelchair-accessible attribute is available in your country. Simple actions will help develop local businesses and ensure a comfortable and safe movement around the city.
Step 1. Open the Google Maps app on your device.
Step 2. Enter the name of the establishment in the search box. Go to the profile of the company for which you want to change information.
Step 3. Click on “About Me” and then “Describe this place.”
Step 4. Click to change the location information.
Step 5. After you have finished editing, click “Submit.”
Adding the wheelchair-accessible attribute is beneficial for business owners – this will increase rankings on Google Maps in 2020, get more customers, and provide valuable information about adapted places for those who need it.