Google Maps just made life a little easier for wheelchair users looking for accessible locations.
People with disabilities and those who use mobility aids can now click on various storefronts and other public places within the mobile app, and it will say whether the locations have accessible entrances. The information is listed under the “Amenities” section for each business.
A group of Google employees used their “20 percent time” to create the feature. The company allows employees to use 20 percent of their time (one day per week) to work on projects unrelated to their main jobs — and several major products, like Gmail and Google News, began through the program. Many employees don’t use the perk, however, because they can’t find the time.
But Rio Akasaka, a product manager for Google Drive who worked on the new feature, said he uses his 20 percent time to work on expanding accessibility features for Google products.
“Accessibility at Google is a big deal,” Akasaka said in an interview with Business Insider. “But it’s often facilitated by whether or not there’s a legal requirement, or some sort of requirement we need to adhere to.”
As a result, other startups — such as Accomable and Access Earth — have tried to fill in the gaps over the years by specifically catering to users with disabilities. Google Maps finally seems to be catching up.
The fact that Google Maps is now showing wheelchair accessibility information may seem like a small addition. But for people with disabilities, the extra information can go a long way.