GOOGLE Maps has introduced a cool new feature recently in their latest update making easier for those with accessibility needs.
The maps application is now wheelchair friendly, thanks to a team of Google employees who worked on the update in their spare time in a bid to make the world more accessible.
Google allows its employees to spend 20 per cent of their time on whatever project interests them and for Rio Akasaka and his team, they wanted to include information that tells users whether locations are suitable for people with access needs. In addition to helping people in wheelchairs, parents with strollers, or Cane users will also benefit from more information about a building’s facilities.
Akasaka is a product manager on Google Drive, the cloud file-hosting service. But in his 20% time, the Boulder, Colorado resident is a product manager working on accessibility features for Google Maps.
For the last year, he has worked with a team of contributors (between five and 10 of them, all in all) on introducing accessibility guidelines to Google Maps. The map tool already displays some information about venues and locations, like busy-ness, opening times, reviews, and atmosphere. Alongside this, it will now display information about their suitability for people with access needs.
So how does it work?
The app sources the information from its Local Guides program which involves Google Maps users who answer questions about the places they visit on everything from cost to quietness.
At the beginning of the year, questions on accessibility were added to the queries Google asked users of the app about certain locations. And with millions of answers, Google now feels confident enough to start displaying the results in its US listings.
So far it has only launched in the US, but the company expects to roll it out worldwide.