Google Rolls Out Voice Guidance in Maps for Visually Impaired

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TOKYO—Starting with World Sight Day, Google Maps is rolling out a new feature that gives people the ability to receive more detailed voice guidance and new types of verbal announcements for walking trips. This feature is the first in Google Maps to be built from the ground up by, and for, people with vision impairments. Google announced the news yesterday through a blog post written by Wakana Sugiyama, a Tokyo-based business analyst with the company’s online partnerships group who had the opportunity to work closely with the Google’s Maps team on the project as an early advisor and tester.

“With this feature, I can navigate the streets of Tokyo with more comfort and confidence,” Sugiyama blogged. “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.”

Click here to watch a video about the new Google Maps voice feature narrated by Wakana Sugiyama.