This week Google announced that Maps will now be offering improved walking directions for the vision impaired.
It has been rolled out in time for World Sight Day and is the first Google Maps feature built from the ground up by and for people with visual impairments.
It’s a great step to make major apps more inclusive, but sadly isn’t coming to Australia just yet.
We can probably expect the new features in the future though, and are hoping the wait won’t be too long.
“This new feature will be available in the US and Japan — we’re working on making it accessible in more languages and countries,” said a Google spokesperson in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
The new features provide more detailed voice guidance, as well as new verbal announcements for walk trips.
Wakana Sugiyama, a Business Analyst for Google worked on the app as an early advisor and tester. She is legally blind and notes that getting around in busy cities such as Tokyo can be a challenge.
These new map features help to combat these struggles.
“With this feature, I can navigate the streets of Tokyo with more comfort and confidence. As I take my journey, Google Maps proactively lets me know that I’m on the correct route, the distance until my next turn and the direction I’m walking in. As I approach large intersections, I get a heads-up to cross with added caution. And if I accidentally leave my route, I’ll get a spoken notification that I’m being re-routed.
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. With detailed voice guidance in Google Maps, my journey fades into the background and I can focus more on what I’ll do at my final destination. 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.”
You can learn more about the features in this video:
For those of you in the U.S. and Japan, Detailed Voice Guidance rolls out from today on Android and iOS.
You can toggle the feature on by going to the settings in Google Maps, selecting ‘Navigation’ and selecting ‘Detailed Voice Guidance.’