Google Rolls Out Accessibility Enhancements

Google is introducing several new offerings aimed at helping people with disabilities. (Large stock)

With a series of updates, Google seeks to make it easier for people with disabilities to interact with the world around them.

The tech giant recently said that Google Maps will offer wheelchair-accessible walking routes. Just as the program already allows users to find step-free walking routes, users can now ask the app to generate stair-free walking directions by selecting “wheelchair accessible” in the route options.

“Not only is this useful for people who use wheelchairs, but it’s also useful for people who travel with things like luggage or strollers,” wrote Eve Andersson, senior director of product inclusion, equity and accessibility at Google, in a advertisement of the changes.

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Meanwhile, another new Google Maps feature uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to help people with disabilities find their way to new places.

With the option called Lens, people with vision problems can use their phone’s camera and screen reader to obtain auditory information about their surroundings. Lens is available now for iOS and will come to Android later this year, Google said.

Additionally, the company now allows businesses to identify themselves on their Google profile as being owned by a person with a disability. This information will be displayed in listings within search results and maps. And Google said details about wheelchair-accessible locations will be visible in Google Maps for Android Auto and in cars with Google built-in.

A handful of other changes will also make the camera on Google’s Pixel phones more accessible and allow people with disabilities more options to modify the display of their home screen on Android devices.

“We remain committed to creating products with and for people with disabilities and hope these new features will be useful to the community,” Andersson wrote.

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