Google Maps adds wheelchair-accessible transit navigation

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Navigating city streets in a wheelchair is notoriously hard, but that may get slightly easier now that Google Inc. has added wheelchair routes to its Maps app.

While public transit should accommodate those with mobility needs, in practice, not all buses, subways, and stations are created equal.

Google Maps on Thursday launched a "wheelchair-accessible" option for six major cities. Some transit stations may not be equipped with elevators or ramps, making it hard and time-consuming-if not impossible-for travelers with mobility needs to access.

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In order to find an accessible public transit route, users can type in a destination on Google Maps, then select "directions" and the public transportation icon.

Better places to stay: In a somewhat similar move, Airbnb also said this week that it added new filters to its service so people could search for much more specific kinds of accessibility features than they could previously.

To use the feature, punch in a route as you usually would, then tap on "options".

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At first, the new Google feature would be rolled out to major metropolitan cities globally including London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney. Google plans to work with transit agencies in other cities to expand this capability in the future, according to its blog post on the update. When you tap on the two-line description and scroll down to the accessibility section, you will know the place doesn't have a feature if you see a no symbol next to it.

Alan Benson, chair of disability access group Transport for All told the BBC: "Getting around the London network on a restricted basis takes a lot of knowledge and confidence, something that I have built up over many years".

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