Four Questions Google Maps has for YOU
Google Maps offers a handy way to navigate but often leaves mobility-impaired people wondering, unsure if their route will accommodate wheelchairs, walkers or other adaptive equipment. Now, Google is asking their users to answer four questions related to accessibility to improve and increase knowledge:
Is there a wheelchair-accessible entrance?
Is there wheelchair-accessible seating?
Is there wheelchair-accessible parking?
Is there a wheelchair-accessible elevator?
For those who may not understand the implications, Google furnishes a description for each of these questions. While rather basic, users are able to refine the information with comments, even noting helpful details like the number of steps, location of nearby elevators, or restroom size.
Thanks to a brigade of voluntary contributors, information is added daily about transit systems, parks and trails, local eateries and businesses. Ideally, Google hopes to add Street View imagery of transit stations so that individuals with many types of disabilities can gauge their level of access and better plan their trips.
But, for the 12 million (and counting!) places available via the maps, noting accessible features will take time. Google officially rolled out the accessible maps for London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney this spring. However, anyone can add information for other locations. It is also easy to become a local Google Guide, and the company encourages Meet-Up events to connect like-minded guides who see the benefits of marking routes of all sorts for the full use of all people.
For ambitious trail markers, Google loans out its Google Street View trekker cameras to organizations or municipalities that want to show the “street view” type equivalent off-road. For many, the device enables armchair travelers to skip the hike and enjoy the scenery digitally.
Google notes that some 65 million individuals use wheelchairs. While this limited information about wheelchair access may not help everyone navigate, it opens the doors for users to participate and help make the world a little wider for everyone.