Access Locations
Improving the lives of wheelchair users by reducing frustrations and confusion.
Concept Project
Concept For: Google Maps
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My Role
UX Designer
Project Duration
2 Weeks
Awesome Team MemberS
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Aesthetics should not come at the cost of accessibility.

When a building is accessible, it does not always mean that it is easily accessible. A recurring problem that wheelchair users come across is that many times, ramps, parking spaces, and even elevators are poorly indicated or located.

With 4.45 million people in the U.S. living with a mobility impairment (serious difficulties walking or climbing stairs), they should not be forced to live in an environment where they are only considered as an afterthought.

They are people too.


When I traveled to Washington D.C. during my course on Global Disabilities, one location we visited was the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Of course, being a curious learner, I was interested in knowing how accessible it was. I was hopeful that since it was a "National" museum, it would be quite accessible, however as I found out at the front doors, it was not designed with accessibility in mind.

When you arrive at the front door, a wide flight of stairs greets you. On the sides of the stairs are two small signs pointing towards the nearest accessible ramp. So, I followed the sign, and kept following it, and kept following it, and kept following it... until 450 feet to the right later, I got to the ramp. Now keep in mind, this ordeal isn't over yet. Once you get up the ramp, you have to go 450 feet back to the front entrance.

900 feet is an absurd request for wheelchair or crutch users. They should not be required to travel 900 feet out of their way to understand the historic pioneering achievements of our nation's space program. Something had to be done to reduce the effort required.

Problem Identification

GOAL: Verify pain point.

Although I was a crutch and wheelchair user, I wanted to confirm that my complaints were valid. As such, I reached out to a few individuals I knew who were wheelchair users and interviewed them about if they had any similar experiences.

Insight: Although I reached out to my contacts, I wish I had reached out to disability organizations and disability activists to see their perspectives. I know two weeks wasn't much to complete this project, but I was glad to at least speak to some friends and connections who voiced their opinions on the matter.


GOAL: Analyze and compile findings.
"I had to travel to next stop light to find a curb cut that would allow me to cross the street."

What I discovered was that I wasn't alone, and this was not an isolated incident. Much of the examples I received was lack of sidewalks in locations, absence of curb cuts, and even incorrect signage.

How can we reduce frustrations for persons with mobility impairments?


GOAL: Figure out how to solve the problem!

To help visualize the problem, I created a user journey map of a specific example.

I then began to research how I could approach the problem and finalized on the idea of mapping accessible locations. Instead of designing a completely new app, I wanted to implement a feature that would work for the largest mapping software on the market, Google Maps.

I chose to highlight three of the most major pain points:

  1. Parking Locations
  2. Curb Cuts/Ramps
  3. Accessible Entrances


Using the three major pain points to guide me, I designed a basic overlay for Google Maps on iOS through Figma. Here, I decided to implement pins which indicate the location of a mobility impairment friendly feature.

I specifically chose this style because of their visual similarity to the pins which Google Map presents when searching for a location. I replaced the color with the blue color seen on accessibility icons and implemented specific icons that would help users quickly identify accessible locations.

Each icon represents one of the major pain points, parking locations, curb cuts/ramps, and accessible entrances, and allows the user to get an aerial view of how to travel from one location to the other most efficiently through Google Maps.

I was also inspired by Waze's community reporting aspect and wanted to capitalize on the power of crowd sourcing, so users can report accessible features of built environments or lack thereof.

Insight: If I had more time, I would have spent it on developing a prototype and running some user tests with it. I would have loved to see real user feedback on how I could improve this add-on.
Access Locations, an add-on for Google Maps!
Simplifying the lives of wheelchair, crutch, and cane users by reducing frustration and energy navigating built environments.

The Access Locations Google Maps Add-On allows users to quickly identify accessible locations through the easy click of a button. With one tap, users will be shown nearby parking spaces, curb cuts/ramps, and accessible entrances.

Future implementations include indoor mapping options as well as reporting features.