On the road with self-driving car user number one

Back in September of 2015, I called my old friend Steve Mahan to invite him on a drive unlike any we’d done before. Steve, who is legally blind, was no stranger to the Google self-driving car project. He had ridden in the driver’s seat of our Prius vehicle in 2012, accompanied by a trained test driver (me) and police escort, and then again in 2014 in a quiet closed parking lot.

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.