We all know Google Maps are a very useful tool when it comes to previewing locations and getting directions, but did you know that you can create a digital pushpin map? Remember how we used to have a big map on our office wall and use pushpins to help visually see relationships to other places? You can do this with Google Maps AND you can access the map from anywhere!
To be able to create a map, you need to be using Google maps from your browser. You can’t add a map from the Google Map app (but you can view the map from the app!). You need to be at the website address, maps.google.com, to create it.
First key to success is logging into your Gmail account so that the map is attached to your account. Otherwise you won’t be able to access it from anywhere.
Second click on the menu (3 parallel horizontal lines) in top left of the screen, and then click on “Your Places” or “My Maps”. If you click on “Your Places”, then you need to click on “Maps”. If you click on “My Maps”, you are already on the maps screen to create a map. As you haven’t created one yet, click on “Create Map” at bottom of screen or the red circle with the plus sign in the middle at the bottom right corner of screen. A new tab will load and a new map will be created. You can edit the map’s name by clicking on “Untitled Map” in the top left box and then typing in a new name. You can add a description too if you want.
So now how do you add pushpins? At the top of the screen, to the right of the map title, there is a box with a search icon. In this box, you can type in addresses or even just city, state. Once you click the search icon, it will zoom into the place and you will need to click “Add to map” in the pop-up window to have the place added to your map. Once you add it, it will appear in the top left box under your map’s title. You can edit the name of the place by clicking on the pencil icon in the pop up box. You can also add a description of the place in the box under the title. Make sure to click “save” when done. If you want your place to have a specific color and/or shape pushpin, click the icon to the left of the pencil (kind of looks like a paint bucket tipped on its side with a drop of paint coming out or a diamond with half-dark and half-light). This icon will have a bunch of different colors to pick from and then a list of popular icons with a box to click for more icons. You can get really creative with your pushpins and colors!
If you need to move your pushpins, you can drag them around the screen to a new location and the coordinates will update but the title and info from google maps won’t change. You can remove the tag from google maps if you want to.
If you want to measure between your pushpins, you can use the ruler which is located under the search bar. Once you have clicked on the ruler, you should see a plus sign as your mouse and then you can click on a place and it will activate the ruler. If you click again, it will continue to measure but you can go in another direction. If you double click, it will de-activate the ruler.
As you are working on your map, google will automatically save the map and it will let you know this under the title of the map in the top left box. Also in that top left box, you can share your map, preview it and even add a new layer. Adding new layers lets you separate your pushpins into different categories so you can show these different layers at the same time or different times. Lastly you can change your base map if you want to have a different colored background or add more contrast to your pushpins!
As for accessibility with voiceover, the map image is not accessible but the legend is so you could write specifics in the titles of each place if you wanted to create a map and share it with someone who uses voiceover. I have used these maps for tracking my client caseload, creating routes/lesson planning and assisting low vision clients with understanding spatial relationships of important places or even just having a way to keep track of these places for later use (i.e. walking directions from the map).