A DIY design for mapping wheelchair access

We need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability. ― Stevie Wonder

And so we celebrate every move towards that goal. A recent Google update, accessible to all, can make life a bit easier for wheelchair users – and many others who will enjoy the most recent application for Wheelmap. http://wheelmap.org)

Wheelmap is an online interactive open system, based on the OpenStreet Map (www.openstreetmap.org) that identifies and rates wheelchair accessible sites ranging from restaurants to libraries. The system was created by a German-based charity, Socialhelden e.V., the brainchild of the foundation’s co-founder Raul Krauthausen.

The idea of Wheelmap is that anyone can contribute, mark and rate public places according to their wheelchair accessibility – ranging from no wheelchair access, to fairly accessible, to fully accessible. Everyone is free to post and rate yet-unlisted sites. The information is free to all and the system is easy to share.

Wheelmap.org is available as a web app and as an app for iPhone, Android and Windows 10.

Every open system invites creative improvement – which is where a team of Google employees stepped to the fore. Motivated by the famous Google policy that once allowed employees to use 20 percent of their time to make Google Maps reflect resources accessible for people with physical disabilities, a team of Google employees took on the challenge to couple the power of Wheelmap with the power of Google Maps.

For a year the team assessed the needs and possibilities so that today there’s an app for that! Wheelchair accessibility is now listed alongside other Google Map features such as traffic and store hours.

As with many applications originally designed for people with disabilities, the Google Maps info about wheelchair access can be a boon to anyone for whom high curbs can be a barrier to easy access.

Mark the wheelchair accessibility of a favorite hangout by clicking on https://wheelmap.org/map#/?zoom=16 to find the site, then click on the level of wheelchair access as you know it to be!

 

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