Starting today, Google Maps will feature a new mode called Accessible Places that, when toggled on, will more prominently show wheelchair accessibility info, the company announced on Thursday. It will be rolling out gradually, the company says, for both Android and iOS.
“When Accessible Places is switched on, a wheelchair icon will indicate an accessible entrance and you’ll be able to see if a place has accessible seating, restrooms or parking,” Google explains in a blog post. “If it’s confirmed that a place does not have an accessible entrance, we’ll show that information on Maps as well.”
Google designed the feature for the 130 million global wheelchair users, of which 30 million reside in the US, and it built it using the crowdsourced efforts of its Local Guides volunteers, who helped double the number of accessibility listings for businesses to more than 15 million after Google put a call for help in 2017. “Store owners have also helped, using Google My Business to add accessibility information for their business profiles to help users needing stair-free access find them on Google Maps and Search,” Google says.
“To get wheelchair accessibility information more prominently displayed in Google Maps, update your app to the latest version, go to Settings, select “Accessibility,” and turn on “Accessible Places.” The feature is available on both Android and iOS,” Google says.
The company is also giving iOS users the ability to more easily contribute accessibility information, as is the case for the Android version of Google Maps. “This guide has tips for rating accessibility, in case you’re not sure what counts as being ‘accessible.’ We invite everyone to switch on Accessible Places and contribute accessibility information to help people in your community,” Google says.