Wouldn’t it be great to plan a trip without the worry of finding suitable wheelchair accommodation and destinations? It’s an all too common problem that wheelchair users are faced with; obstacles and extra admin work to find out if where they are going is suitable for them or not? Google Maps has released this innovation on Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

This is a great Google Maps feature which couldn’t have been timed better during a global pandemic. A lot of places you will visit have changed the way in which they operate due to COVID-19. Having up to date information about accessibility in a time of change such as this is a welcome positive.

This is a great new feature and a long overdue one which can help to simplify travel for wheelchair users. Here’s a summary of how it works…


What is it?

Google have added a feature to their Maps application which shows accessibility information. This allows users to see if where they are travelling to supports wheelchair use.

Google maps is already a great piece of technology which allows us to plan trips, book accommodation, find places to eat and almost any other function you can think of within a few taps of your phone.

This new feature will identify to you if the place you are visiting has accessible entrances, seating, restrooms and parking. It will also let you know if it does not have any of these features.

Google maps is already a very specific application which can display opening times, directions, allow you to book, buy or contact a business. The added specifics of accessible information is welcomed by the disabled community.


How does it work?

Accommodation and attractions now update their information on their business listings which enables google to have access to this information.

You only need to make a simple change to your settings on google maps in order for you to view the accessibility of your destination.

Locate the settings tab within google maps, click accessibility and then turn on accessible places. This now turns on the feature which will display the most appropriate, easy access, wheelchair friendly places to visit.

The accessible option on places you search for will be identified by a wheelchair symbol.


Why it is useful for accommodation providers and wheelchair users?

For accommodation providers its benefits are as follows:

  • Helps to attract more business
  • Helps to provide a better experience for accessible users
  • Improves their business reputation
  • Improves their service levels by helping them be more prepared for accessible users

If businesses do not have this information available on their business listing it could lead to a downturn in business or their reputation. The more businesses and locations which update their information regarding accessibility – the better the world becomes for the disabled community. Ease of access in 2020 to how accessible a location is should be mandatory, with google taking this step, it will encourage more devices and platforms to do the same.

For wheelchair users the benefits are as follows:

  • Helps them to plan trips with more ease
  • Reduces anxiety towards travelling
  • Helps people to make necessary journeys and reduce wasted time.
  • Saves money due to late changes related to accessibility options.

This feature went live in May 2020 and is now available through a range of countries including Australia, Japan, UK, and the US.

In total, google has received more than 500 million updates to places with accessibility information – so there’s a good chance your destination it’ll be covered.

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