Google Maps celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day with Accessible Places

With 130 million wheelchair users worldwide and more than 30 million Americans who have difficulty using stairs, there’s no denying that a significant number of individuals face numerous difficulties in navigating the world. Fortunately, Google is here to help. In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the tech company has announced an all-new Google Maps feature designed to signify whether or not a business offers wheelchair accessibility.

To date, Google Maps offers wheelchair accessibility information for 15 million places worldwide. Thanks in part to Google’s 120 million local guides, that number has more than doubled since 2017.

For wheelchair users and those with mobility issues, having this type of information on hand can be remarkably helpful. By releasing Accessible Places, Google is further empowering its users to make informed decisions on where they travel and if they can expect to do so safely and comfortably.

“Imagine making plans to go somewhere new, taking the journey to get there and arriving— only to be stuck outside, prevented from sitting with family or being unable to access the restroom. It’s a deeply frustrating experience I’ve had many times since becoming a wheelchair user in 2009,” shared Google Maps software engineer Sasha Blair-Goldensohn.

“So imagine instead being able to ‘know before you go’ whether a destination is wheelchair accessible, just as effortlessly as looking up the address,” she continued.

To enable wheelchair accessibility information within Google Maps, app users must update to the latest version by going to “Settings,” selecting “Accessibility” and turning on “Accessible Places.” When turned on, a wheelchair icon will indicate if a business offers an accessible entrance, seating, restrooms or parking. If a business is not wheelchair accessible, Accessible Places will show that information on Maps too.

Accessible Places is currently available for Google Maps users in Australia, Japan, U.K. and U.S. Support for additional countries is in the works.