Lonely Planet Writer

How you can help make Google Maps more useful to wheelchair users

In an effort to make Google Maps more useful to wheelchair users, they’ve begun to crowdsource information on whether or not locations are wheelchair accessible.

Two men enjoy the Atlantis Aquarium, Bahamas
The new Google Maps accessibility information will include entrances, parking and bathrooms. Image by Coolcameragirl/Budget Travel

The ability to add information about accessibility will be available to Android users in the app, who can add it under ‘My Contributions’, ‘Uncover missing info’ and then ‘Accessibility’. Here, you can input details about a wheelchair-accessible entrance, parking, seating, bathroom, and if an elevator is on the property.

Accessibility details were only added to Google Maps in December 2016 after a product manager in Google decided to start a side-project filing in the much-needed details. However, there were still huge gaps in knowledge and now the tech firm is turning to the more than 350 million Android users to help fill them in.

Although only Android users can currently add the information, the new updates will be visible to everybody who uses the maps across all platforms. Currently there is information for more than seven million spots around the world, but many more are needed.

How inputting the new accessibility information would look. Image by Google
How inputting the new accessibility information would look. Image by Google

The information will be useful everywhere but will be especially of use to travellers with disabilities in countries where wheelchair-accessibility is not as common. While other guides do exist – such as Wheelmap or Access Earth – Google Maps has more than one billion users and it’s hoped this crowdsourcing approach will allow it to get the information as quickly as possible.