Google Maps can provide users with a lot of information regarding a specific location. Now, the company has complemented the overall service with a new feature which shows what locations are wheelchair accessible in a bid to make life a bit easier for persons with disabilities.
The new feature is relatively easy to find, as those interested to see which locations are wheelchair accessible need only click on various storefronts and public places on the mobile version of Google Maps. Doing so will reveal whether the marker you clicked on has accessible entrances for wheelchairs and other mobility aids. The information can be found in the Amenities tab for each location or business.
The new feature for Google Maps is the result of the effort put in by a group of Google employees who user their 20 percent time to develop it. Any company employee is allowed to use 20 percent of their working time to focus on various projects which are not related to their main jobs. This type of management has led to the creation of several major Google products like Google News and Gmail. Unfortunately, not many employees use the perk as they are constrained by the importance and time requirement of their main projects.
Expanding accessibility is what Rio Akasaka spent his 20 percent time working on despite being a Google Drive product manager. He emphasized the importance of accessibility for Google, however, the amount of work put into its expansion depends on whether or not there’s a legal requirement which needs to be met for a specific product.
Akasaka has worked together with ten other colleagues over a period of around a year to develop new accessibility features for Google. The result of their work will help provide information to persons with walking disabilities by sourcing the accessibility information about locations from the Google Maps Local Guides community. This is where users actively answer questions about the places they have visited.
Google initially added a number of accessibility questions earlier this year to the Local Guides. After collecting enough information, the team will list the results in Google Maps. However, at this point, not all locations will have the feature.
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