Over eight years ago, a rotted tree branch crashed down on Sasha Blair-Goldensohn as he walked through Central Park, putting him in a temporary coma and partially paralyzing his lower body.
Blair-Goldensohn returned to work less than two years later, equipped with both a new wheelchair and a fresh perspective on how his employer — Google — designs products to help people with disabilities.
Google has long had an 'accessibility team' that strives to make digital services like search and Gmail usable for those with limited vision, hearing or mobility. But as Blair-Goldensohn struggled to navigate the New York City subway system, with its paltry number of elevators and limited service updates, he realized there was so much more Google could do to assist people in the physical world.
This week, he's celebrating a major milestone: Google Maps just introduced "wheelchair accessible" routes in transit navigation in New York, London, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney. Maps users in those cities will be able to search for wheelchair-friendly ways to get around.