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Google Maps launches 'wheelchair accessible' routes

Google has introduced 'wheelchair accessible' routes in transport navigation to make getting around city centres easier for those with mobility needs.

Google Maps was built to help people navigate and explore the world, providing directions, worldwide, to people travelling by car, bicycle or on foot. But in city centres, buses and trains are often the best way to get around, which presents a challenge for people who use wheelchairs or with other mobility needs. Information about which stations and routes are wheelchair friendly isn’t always readily available or easy to find. They plan to make public transport work for everyone.

To access the 'wheelchair accessible' routes, type your desired destination into Google Maps. Tap 'Directions' then select the public transportation icon. Then tap 'Options' and under the 'Routes' section, you’ll find 'wheelchair accessible' as a new route type. When you select this option, Google Maps will show you a list of possible routes that take mobility needs into consideration. 

A spokesperson for Google said: “This feature is rolling out in major metropolitan [transport] centres around the world, starting with London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney. We’re looking forward to working with additional transit agencies in the coming months to bring more wheelchair accessible routes to Google Maps.”

In addition to making public transportation more accessible, people around the world have been helping Google add accessibility information to Google Maps. In addition, it has been busy capturing and updating Street View imagery of transport stations and city centres so people can preview a place or  station ahead of time.

“We built this feature to make life easier for people who use wheelchairs, but accessible routes are also helpful if you’re on crutches or pushing a stroller. With the help of [transport] agencies around the globe and people like you who contribute local knowledge, we’re making progress toward a more accessible world for everyone,” the spokesperson added.

Share your thoughts

Do you travel a lot in cities using public transport? Have you used these new accessible routes? Tell us about your experience by emailing newpathways@ms-uk.org.

Source: MS-UK 21/03/18

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