Google Maps and Accessibility

The above photo is a picture of a woman whose hands are holding an iPad showing a map

Google Maps and Accessibility

Did you know that Google has added wheelchair accessible routes within Google Maps? By doing so, Google is helping people with disabilities move around more efficiently. This feature is geared toward public transit in big cities.


When a person with a disability choose it, the feature will show the layout of a city with both wheelchair ramps and elevators.

According to Accessibility in Google Maps You can use a screen reader, keyboard shortcuts, and other features to make your Google Maps experience more accessible.

For use on your desktop, Google says that you can use Google Maps with the following browsers and screen readers. You can use Chrome with ChromeVox on Chromebooks, Firefox with NVDA or JAWS on Windows, and Safari with Voiceover on MAC.

If you are using your keyboard to utilize Google Maps, bring up the map of your choice then press the TAB key until the map is in focus. This will cause a portion of the map to be highlighted with a square. Beneath the square a numbered list of places in that area be evident. Now, from here, you can move around the map. To do so, use the arrow keys. Google gives us a Tip! Hold down the Shift key and press the arrow keys to move the map by one square. You can now zoom in or out by hitting the Plus or Minus key respectively. Do you want to know more about a place on the map? Press on the number associated with that place. Do you want to see more places, it is easy, just press 9. To return to the previous screen, simply press 8. If you press the Control Key, the + key and the / key simultaneously, a list of shortcuts will pop up. (Thanks Google).

Do you want to find accessible Transit? There is a way to do that as well. In the search bar of Google Maps, enter your destination. A list of results will show up. Then click on the location you are looking for. Next, click on “Directions”, then Transit, then click on Options. You will see under options “Routes”. Click on Wheelchair accessible and choose your route. Google just helped you out!

What about if you are on a mobile device such as a phone or a tablet? Can you still benefit from the accessible map? Yes, you can. Let’s break it down into Android and IOS.

For Android phones or tablets, Google Maps works with your Android’s accessibility features including the TalkBack screen reader. Check TalkBack setup help for detailed instruction on how to set up your particular phone or tablet as there may be minor variations. Generally, however, open the settings app. Tap Accessibility the TalkBack and then turn TalkBack on.

In your phones’ settings, under Accessibility, you can also change your font size to make everything larger and you can also alter your display size.

Do you want to zoom in Google Maps? If so, simply double tap the map and drag down to zoom in and up to zoom out. You can also move the map by dragging it around with your finger.

So how do you find accessible transit on Google Maps while on your Android phone or tablet? Pretty much the same way as you did on your desktop. Open Google Maps, in the search bar, enter your destination then tap on the list of results to the location you want. Tap directions, Transit and then tap Options. Under “Routes, tap Wheelchair accessible, done and then choose your route.

If you are using an iPhone or an iPad, you can use their accessibility features the including VoiceOver screen reader. To read the exact steps to set up VoiceOver, you may want to visit the Apple support site. Generally, though tap on your Setting app, then tap General and then Accessibility and turn on VoiceOver.

In the accessibility section, you can also tap “Larger” text, turn on larger accessibility sizes and set the letter size to your liking.

As with the Android phones and tablets, to zoom in on the map on your iPhone and iPad, simply drag it down and conversely to zoom out of the map, simply drag it up. As with an Android phone or tablet, in your iPhone or iPad, open Google Maps and then in the search bar enter your destination then tap on the list of results to the location you want. Tap directions, Transit and then tap Options. Under “Routes, tap Wheelchair accessible, done and then choose your route.

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