Today was a great day and step forward in creating equitable inclusion of automated vehicles for people living with blindness or visual impairment!

Not in a million years would a product developer or designer put a product in the marketplace without performing market research, focus groups, and user testing. It is critical for any solution that is designed to increase inclusion for people with disabilities, to include people with disabilities in the design, development, and testing  of those solutions before they go to market.

Guide dog users and white cane users, who are living in city and rural  environments, all with differing levels of visual acuity, came together to tell FAR about their concerns, needs, and wants  for ride-share services today. After introductions and breaking the ice, we began exploring how things would change in an AV environment whether the vehicle is owned or ride-share. What an experience!

It was fascinating to sit back and listen to the focus group after introducing a topic or hypothetical situation a person with blindness or visual impairment might face when trying to safely travel while using Automated Vehicles.

This market research will pay evolutionary dividends for FAR’s prototype in the DOT’s Inclusive Design Challenge.

FAR would like to give special thanks and appreciation to two of our strategic advisors, Dennis Hayes of Hayes Microcomputers and Penny Rosenblum, Director of Research at American Foundation for the Blind, for their assistance in ensuring this important research will improve the lives of people living with blindness or visual impairment.