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U.S. Access Board Holds Third Session of Public Forum on Inclusive Design of Autonomous Vehicles

April 08, 2021

The U.S. Access Board held its third virtual public meeting on inclusive design of autonomous vehicles (AVs) yesterday. The session addressed ride hailing and on-board communication for passengers with hearing, visual, or cognitive disabilities. It included invited speakers who presented on research findings, solutions, and implications, as well as members of the public who shared comments, suggestions, and information and posed questions. 

Access Board Member Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda opened the session by discussing the importance of considering digital infrastructures in designing AVs so that everyone can benefit from the technology. Access Board Accessibility Specialists Sarah Presley and Bruce Bailey moderated the session and introduced guest speakers Dr. Cecilia Feeley and Andrea Lubin of Rutgers University, Dr. Robin Brewer of University of Michigan, Anil Lewis of National Federation of the Blind, and Dr. Christian Vogler of Gallaudet University. 

Dr. Cecilia Feeley and Andrea Lubin presented findings and takeaways from a participatory research project that involved a series of focus groups with persons with disabilities who experienced an AV shuttle ride. Dr. Robin Brewer reviewed qualitative data from several research projects examining how accessible systems for people who are blind or who have low vision can be designed with differing levels of control for hailing and operating AVs. Anil Lewis discussed the challenges and possible solutions of using mobile apps to hail AVs by people who are blind or have low vision. Dr. Christian Vogler discussed the importance of designing AVs with different communication modalities that provide access for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The presentations were followed by an open discussion between the presenters and session attendees. 

A recording of the session and copies of the presentations are available on the Board’s AV webpage.  

The final session in the series will take place April 21 and will continue discussion of communication accessibility in hailing and interacting with AVs for passengers with hearing, visual, or cognitive disabilities. All sessions are free and open to the public, but registration is required. Visit the Board’s website for further details or to register. You can also sign up to receive updates on the sessions by email.  

In addition to the virtual meetings, an online discussion platform is currently open to the public to share ideas and questions on designing AVs that are accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities. Dialogues on accessibility for passengers with sensory or cognitive disabilities and next steps are open for comment. 

Direct questions about the forum to Randall Duchesneau III at events@access-board.gov or (202) 272-0044.