December 17, 2016 2:58:42 pm
Google’s latest update to its Maps service now adds wheelchair accessible locations to its list of features. The new feature will now tell you whether a location is suitable for people with access needs, but is currently only available to users in the United States, according to a report on BusinessInsider.
The wheelchair accessibility feature was made possible thanks to Google’s initiative called the ‘20% Project’. Google employees working on the project spend 20 per cent of their time working on side projects not related to their main jobs. Rio Akasaka, Product Manager of Google Drive, was one such employee responsible for the accessibility feature now introduced on Google Maps.
In the past one year, Akasaka spent 20 per cent of his time allotted to side projects to work with a team of contributors to add accessibility guidelines on Google Maps. While Maps app already has certain information related to locations such as opening/closing times, reviews etc, it will now show information on whether the location suits people with special access needs.
“Accessibility at Google is a big deal. But it’s often facilitated by whether or not there’s a legal requirement, or some sort of requirement we need to adhere to,” Akasaka told Business Insider. While the focus is on Wheelchair accessibility, the information also helps parents with prams, or people using canes according to Akasaka.
Google receives information about location accessibility from ‘Local Guides’, who are regular Google Maps users that respond to questions such as cost, quietness about places they have visited. Questions on accessibility were added to the list earlier this year, and with ‘millions’ of answers, Google now feels confident enough to share the details with its other users.
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