For the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, today is World Sight Day — a time to think about how we can prevent avoidable vision diseases and reducing external impacts for people living with visual impairment or blindness. Navigation in unfamiliar places remains one of the biggest challenges for those people, so the Google Maps team has decided to take the opportunity to roll out detailed voice guidance for walking directions.
This guidance is now rolling out in English for the United States and in Japanese for Japan. Users can head to the settings in the Google Maps app for either Android or iOS, select “Navigation settings,” and enabled a toggle called “Detailed voice guidance” which can be found under the “Walking options” header.
As the mode is demonstrated in the video, the voice gives specific details as to how far you’ll need to walk to reach certain landmarks and will alert you to obstacles such as if a crosswalk runs through a particularly large intersection. If you stop in the middle of your walk, the voice will tell you if you’re still headed in the correct direction and remind you of how far your next turn is. If you do head in the wrong direction, the voice will give rerouted directions.
Wakana Sugiyama, a business analyst at Google, writes in a post for the company’s The Keyword blog that this is the first feature built by and for people with visual impairments. She says that this enables people like her to experience new places without having to rely on a friend to accompany them. And the great thing about it is that you don’t have to be blind to find enhanced turn-by-turn walking instructions in unusual locations useful!
Detailed voice guidance will soon be available in more countries.