Is Google leading the way in wheelchair accessibility?

Travel Hacks

A man sits in his wheelchair on a dropped pavement. Source: Wooozxh / Unsplash

UP until just a few decades ago the need for wheelchair access was overridden by the desire of urban planners and architects looking to create something beautiful or perhaps to cut costs.

Maybe the needs of wheelchair users have simply been forgotten altogether.

Now, urban landscapers, planners, and designers are making every effort to ensure wheelchair users aren’t excluded.

Hong Kong, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates and South Korea have already established brilliant systems for wheelchair users.

Other nations such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, and Thailand are trying to improve their nation’s accessibility for wheelchair users too and they’re doing a good job.

However, this is only half the accessibility battle for those who rely on wheelchairs. Finding which transport systems are suitable, avoiding flights of stairs or steep hills is the other battle.

But Google is trying to end this struggle by releasing a Google Maps update which will allow wheelchair users to see where ramps and lifts are located and where to avoid stairs and escalators.

This new filter is currently available in Tokyo, Mexico City, New York, Boston, London and Sydney with the view of adding new cities soon.

Google was able to collate most of the information from its existing Google Maps users, while other information was generated from over 200 meetups of Google’s “Local Guides”.

In total, over 12 million locations were assessed and input into the new filter. That means 12 million places wheelchair users are easily able to find out if they can access.

Although it may be a while until every village, town, and city in every nation is built to be fully inclusive, this new step from Google is heading in the right direction.