Google Maps: Help people with mobility challenges. Make your maps accessible!
Multiple sclerosis landed me in a wheelchair in 2006. Suddenly a too-narrow door, or one step outside of a restaurant turned the daily activities I had always taken for granted into huge obstacles. When most people plan to go to a restaurant they don't have to worry about whether they'll actually be able to get in the door to meet their friends, or whether they'll be able to get into a bathroom stall. Many of us just choose stay home rather than face these challenges - there's got to be a better way. Google Maps has the ability to help people with disabilities across the world. Currently Google Maps has different options -- you can add traffic info, bike info or weather info to your maps. People with mobility challenges like me need Google Maps to include an accessibility option so that we are able to find out in advance which buildings, transit stations etc. are accessible to us or not! No one wants to discriminate, but accessibility isn't something most people have to think about ever, thankfully. Most of the time I just need to point out why something is inaccessible for people in wheelchairs and people spring into action. I'm hoping that's the case with Google. After all, their motto is: don't be evil. Google already designs their products to be accessible for blind and deaf people, so we know they already care about accessibility. When I first lost the ability to walk, I felt invisible. I had been an industrial millwright mechanic for 30 years and suddenly couldn't do that anymore. But I decided to see my disability as a new challenge. I went back to college to study Community and Justice Services, and I developed a passion for helping others. I started this because I know that not only would an accessibility feature on Google Maps change the daily lives of people with disabilities around the world, but more importantly, it would be saying that people with accessibility challenges matter too. Sign my petition and spread the word! Thanks, Randy McNeil ___ There are two ways this should happen that would be easy for Google! 1) Work with other map aps that are working on mapping accessibility. There are a couple map programs that I know of already. They are excellent, but Google has the ability to reach the whole world. One solution could be for Google to work with aps like Axsmap, Wheelmap or and Planat and integrate their data into google maps. Everyone would benefit. 2) Include an "accessibility" review on Google+ so that when people click on a location on Google maps they are able to look up or contribute to an accessibility review. This could be useful for people with different challenges. For example, the fact that a restaurant has a ramp outside and also a menu in braille could be listed.