Google is asking the public - in particular its ‘local guides’ - to add accessibility information to Google Maps. It's hoping that visitors to restaurants, theatres, offices and lots of other venues, will add info on whether entrances, toilets and spaces are suitable for wheelchair users.
The company is encouraging its guides, and anyone else interested in improving accessibility, to hold group meet-ups with each other to populate Google Maps with such info.
Last month, AbilityNet accessibility consultant Guerman Botten, attended a Local Guides event hosted by Google to find out more and was inspired to see the initiative taking off.
Not just wheelchair accessibility
“The latest update to Google Maps allows people to add information to venue detail. I’ve reviewed lots of places. You can say stuff about whether it’s noisy, busy, expensive or family-friendly, for example, and now we’re being encouraged to add information on wheelchair accessibility."
He added: “There’s nothing to stop people adding detail on whether a place has braille menus, for example, or audio guides for people with vision loss. We could also add other detail that's useful to people with a range of disabilities too."
There’ve been several hundred meets over the last few weeks focused on adding accessibility information to Google Maps including events in Gujarat, India, Tomsk, Russia, Vancouver, Canada, and Batticloa, Sri Lanka.
Check out g.co/localguides/meetup to see if a meet-up is being hosted near you, or add one in if you'd like to host one yourself. You can share your discoveries of accessible places on Twitter and social media using the hashtags #LocalGuides and #a11y.
How to add detail about wheelchair accessibility on Google Maps
• Go to “Your contributions” on your phone (click on the three horizontal verticle lines, normally in the top left hand corner of maps)
• Tap “Answer questions about a place” or "uncover missing info" under 'improve the map near you' (Don’t see it? Make sure Location History is turned on.)
• Answer as many accessibility questions as you can (use this guide for reference).
• You may see other questions as well, until you move on to the next place.
• If you have an Android device, you can find places near you that are missing this info and edit these attributes by checking the facts.