Engineer makes Google Maps disabled-friendly with introduction of accessibility features

Living in a world that’s not designed for the disabled is hard and anything we can do to help such people is always for the better. A Google engineer has made the lives of wheelchair-bound people just that little bit easier.


Living in a world that’s not designed for the disabled is hard and anything we can do to help such people is always for the better.

A Google engineer has made the lives of wheelchair-bound people just that little bit easier. Rio Akasaka is a product manager on Google Drive, but he and a small team worked on introducing a set of accessibility guidelines to Google Maps. As per the new guidelines, Google Maps can now display information on the wheelchair friendliness of locations.

Business Insider reports that Google Maps normally sources this information from local guides, users who answer questions  on places they visit. Apparently, accessibility-related questions were introduced to these questions earlier this year. Now that Google’s developed a large enough database of this information, the company is displaying the information in Maps.

The change is a small one, but one can see how such a service can be useful to the right person. As Akasaka elaborates, it’s not just wheelchair-bound people who’ll benefit. Even people with prams or walking sticks can take advantage of the service.

Speaking with Business Insider, Akasaka says that mapping companies don’t have any guidelines with regards to accessibility, forcing Akasaka to design and develop such a system from scratch.

Google’s 20 percent time policy has resulted in some of Google’s most successful products, including Gmail and AdSense. Wheelchair accessibility might pale in comparison, but we’re sure it matters a great deal to many.


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