In recent weeks, several major technology companies including Google and Apple have released updates to help raise awareness for accessibility. Improving accessible features has been a major topic for large companies lately. Leading research institutions are studying how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can make technology more accessible for all, and now two of the largest technology providers in the world have joined in to help raise awareness for improving accessibility.
Google Maps and Reviews
Google recently launched “wheelchair accessible routes” in select cities for their Google Maps app. As part of a test, the app will now show wheelchair accessible routes in cities like Boston, New York City, and London. It will now feature the most accessible options in terms of public transportation. To use this feature, users can simply click put in the address of where they want to go then select “wheelchair accessible” under the “routes” section.
Last summer, Google added the ability for users to add wheelchair accessibility information when reviewing businesses online. This update was instrumental in helping travelers and people unfamiliar with certain areas to make necessary arrangements and even avoid places that are difficult to access by wheelchair. Thanks to the update from Google, companies around the country have been both exposed for not meeting ADA standards, as well as praised for going above and beyond with their accessible accommodations.
Late last month Emojipedia revealed the news that Apple has proposed several new accessibility emojis be added. These emojis, or small photos that can be added to text messages, include a guide dog, prosthetic limbs, and people in wheelchairs. They also worked with several national organizations to create emojis that better represent the Deaf and Blind communities. In total 45 different variations of the icons were proposed and will hopefully be available on iPhones in the near future.
Interested in more technology news related to accessibility? Check out the MobilityWorks blog post on Toyota’s Mobility for All campaign.