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Google Maps rolls out detailed voice guidance for people with impaired vision

The feature will inform people if they're on the correct route and which direction they're walking.

Abrar Al-Heeti Video producer / CNET
Abrar Al-Heeti is a video host and producer for CNET, with an interest in internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. Before joining the video team, she was a writer for CNET's culture team. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
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Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read

Google is rolling out a feature for Maps that gives users new types of verbal announcements on walking trips.

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Google on Thursday launched a new feature that gives users with vision impairments more detailed voice guidance. They can now receive new types of verbal announcements during walking trips. 

During a journey, Google Maps will let a person know that they're on the right route, how far until until the next turn and in which direction they're walking. Users will be told to cross the street with additional caution as they come upon large intersections. And if they accidentally get off the correct route, they'll be told they're being re-routed.   

To turn on the feature, go to settings in Google Maps and choose "Navigation." At the bottom of the list, find "Detailed voice guidance," under the "Walking options" heading. 

At least 2.2 billion people worldwide have a vision impairment or blindness, according to the World Health Organization. This feature could help people who are blind or have low vision explore new places, said Wakana Sugiyama, a business analyst in Google's Tokyo office who was an adviser and tester for the project. 

"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," she said in a blog post. 

Sugiyama added that users without visual impairments can also benefit from the option of having a more screen-free experience during a walking trip. 

The detailed voice guidance feature begins rolling out Thursday on Android and iOS. It's currently available in English in the US and in Japanese in Japan, and additional languages and countries will be added in the future.