Smart car, self-driving mode vehicle with Radar signal system and and wireless communication, Autonomous carSelf-driving cars, or autonomous vehicles (AV), promise to change transportation as the world knows it. United Spinal is advocating for AV technology to be accessible for all, including people with disabilities.

“For untold millions of Americans, a universal accessible manufactured autonomous vehicle would be a life’s game changer,” says James Weisman, United Spinal’s president and CEO.

United Spinal is not only working to make sure AV and related technologies are accessible for people with spinal cord injuries and disorders, we are making sure they are part of the conversation about how this game changer rolls off the assembly line and into our daily lives.

Already United Spinal has teamed up with some powerful federal allies. The US Access Board, US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) have all sought United Spinal’s input and feedback as these policymakers and national agenda setters map out how autonomous vehicles can use our nation’s roadways safely and efficiently.

Most recently, we joined ODEP, DOT and other national disability groups for a conversation on “Autonomous Vehicles: Driving Employment for People with Disabilities.”

Importantly, we covered topics about how AV must serve Americans with disabilities across the country, not just in our major cities but throughout rural America. And we discussed at length how AV had to include accessible services across all manner of disabilities, especially for those of us who use wheelchairs.

United Spinal focused on how accessible transportation getting to and from a job also means people will spend more time, and do more, in their communities. And how all that increased independence equals a higher quality of life. The full “Driving Employment” report is here.

United Spinal wants to hear from you about your current transportation, what works and what doesn’t. Please feel free to email me at abennewith@unitedspinal.org or you can also contribute your ideas to ODEP’s virtual AV community at: https://transportationinnovation.ideascale.com/a/index.