It’s no exaggeration to say that Google Maps has changed the travel game, making it easier than ever for globetrotters to navigate unfamiliar locales with aplomb. Now, with its latest rollout, it’s bringing that same sense of confidence and accessibility to people with impaired vision. 

portrait of a blind woman with a white cane standing outside, waiting for public transport in summer.
Detailed voice guidance for walking trips is now available on Google Maps for Android and iOS. Image © Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

On 10 October,  just in time for World Sight Day, Google Maps introduced detailed voice guidance for walking trips – the platform’s first feature built by and for people with vision impairments. It’s currently available on Android and iOS, in English in the United States and Japanese in Japan, with more languages and countries in the works. 

With voice guidance, you can opt to receive notifications and verbal announcements as you traverse the city on foot, including warnings when you’re crossing busy intersections, confirmation that you’re on the right track (and a heads-up if you’re not), which direction you’re walking, and how much further you have to go until your next turn.

As an early advisor and tester on the project, business analyst Wakana Sugiyama wrote in a blog post announcing the roll-out, “frequent updates like these not only help a visually impaired person get from A to B, they can also give us more confidence and reassurance when we travel alone... This may not sound extraordinary to those with sight, but for people who are blind or have low vision, this can help us explore new and unfamiliar places.”

Though Google obviously intends the detailed voice guidance to be useful to the hundreds of millions of people around the world who are blind or have moderate-to-severe vision impairments, it also hopes the new feature will come in handy to travellers across the spectrum – those who want to be less glued to their screens, say, or those who need a little extra help with directions. 

To opt in, go to Google Maps settings and select “Navigation.” Under “Walking options,” select "Detailed voice guidance.”

Explore related stories

May 16, 2024: We started the day at the Centro Ecuestre Los Caireles.  There we met our hosts Miguel Angel and his brother Jesus, who own and run the farm.  (Miguel Angel wore a black vest.)  The Centro is a horse back riding school.  We shot pics at their farm and then headed to the town of Consuegra.  On the mountain overlooking the town, there is a castle and several windmills.  We shot pics and video of Miguel Angel and Jesus riding around the windmills and the castle.  This area is notable because it is where the fictional Don Quixote rode around in Miguel de Cervantes’ famous novel.  Afterward, we returned back to El Centro where we filmed our hosts riding by grape vineyards and olive groves to the nearby Villafranca de los Caballeros lagoons.
Spain Marketing 1379722

Attraction

Celebrating Sustainable Spain

Jul 8, 2024 • 10 min read