People who rely on wheelchairs, rollators, or other mobility aids know how frustrating it is to deal with raised steps and narrow spaces in restaurants in shops. It also can be inconvenient or downright impossible to look up accessibility information for many public areas. So, in light of today being Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Google Maps is officially introducing a new mode highlighting accessible places on the app.
Users will see a new Accessibility settings item in the Maps app's settings. They can toggle on the Accessible places feature from there. Roll-outs are ongoing in Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. More countries will follow.
Wheelchair icons will appear in search results while details such as parking, entrances, elevators, seating, and restrooms will now appear in listings — users can add this information when submitting an edit to a listing or it can be added by a Local Guide answering a question about somewhere they've been by. You can take a look at specifications for wheelchair accessibility through this guide on the Google Maps Help site.
Maps currently has accessibility data for more than 15 million places.
Buildings can be exempt from accessibility laws for a variety of reasons — in most cases, its for historical preservation, though many buildings may not fall under the scope of legislation that doesn't apply retroactively. It's not an ideal world we live in, but getting the info you need in a few taps definitely helps us cope.