Google has been testing its self-driving cars on the roads of Nevada for a while now, but last week it called attention to this project in a big way. Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, went for a ride behind the wheel of a self-driving car, accompanied by Google engineers and local police. This technology could have a huge impact on the accessibility of automobiles, making travel by car possible for those with vision impairments, mobility impairments, and older adults with slower reflexes. The technology behind self-driving cars could also make driving safer for everyone, as most accidents are caused by human error.
Most district courts have ruled that an employee’s work commute falls outside of their employer’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodations according to the ADA. However, a few courts have expanded the ADA to take a worker’s commute into consideration. For instance, in Colwell v. Rite Aid Corp (602 F.3d 495, 3rd Cir., 2010) the court ruled that the employer was obligated to accommodate a worker with vision problems, by providing her with a shift schedule that allowed her to avoid driving at night when her vision is at its poorest. The court determined that the shift schedule accommodation pertained to a workplace condition that was under the employer’s control and would affect the employee’s ability to get to work.
Have you ever been to a foreign city and not been able to figure out the names of the stations or directions of that city’s metro? Did you feel completely lost and upset with whoever designed the system? Maybe as a parent you have tried taking a bus with a stroller and gave up because you were not able to take it up the steep stairs? Or maybe you had to walk on the road among traffic and cars because the sidewalk was blocked by construction or parked cars?
An urban navigation system won the Judges Award in the Centre for Universal Design Excellence first ever 24-Hour Design Award Challenge.
The design contest consisted of five teams working with an “expert user,” called a “design partner,” to develop a product or service that addresses a challenge commonly faced by the design partner on the streets of Dublin. Participants on the teams were architects, landscape architects, engineers, product designers, interaction designers and students.
The winner, “What a Load of Bollards,” is an intuitive navigation system that can be added to the top of any curbside bollard in a city. The bollard head is replaced by an information dial with tactile highcontrast colored direction arrows and speech output.
The Norwegian Design Council has featured a concept car, designed by the electric car company Think, as an example of how companies should incorperate inclusive design in the design process. Think’s concept car incorporates modern communication and information technology, allowing users to connect to various applications or social media sites. Users can create personalized profiles that set the size, color, and contrast of the digital dashboard as well as the car’s other interfaces. These profiles could be saved and transferred from car to car, so that even when you rent or borrow a car, it can “become your car” by displaying your personalized settings. During the design process, Think interviewed users with a wide range of ages and mobility requirements in order to understand their needs. The result is that the car company has developed a concept that would work for a wide range of potential users.