For Immediate Release
July 26, 2021
Contact: Sam Drzymala, firstname.lastname@example.org
Report shows robust efforts even in the face of challenges caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic
Washington, D.C. – Today, in honor of the 31st anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) issued its second progress report on its Automobile Accessibility Scorecard. The scorecard tracks progress by auto manufacturing companies toward the design and production of an accessible vehicle that can accommodate people with a wide range of disabilities, including power wheelchair users, along 29 criteria. Currently, no manufacturer offers a fully accessible vehicle that does not require expensive aftermarket modifications for wheelchair users. Although autonomous vehicles’ (AVs) potential to remove barriers is frequently touted, as automakers pave the way with new concepts for these vehicles, it is crucial that people with disabilities are not left out and left behind.
This year’s progress report found that, even as the pandemic disrupted business plans, progress toward accessibility has not been eroded. In fact, major OEMs have continued tackling the challenges associated with accessible design in their AV programs during this period.
“Despite unprecedented challenges to the auto industry with a raging global pandemic, accessibility advocates and their partners at auto manufacturing companies have persevered,” said Maria Town, President and CEO at AAPD. “The work of designing and building an accessible passenger vehicle continues, and we look forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with manufacturing companies on setting a concrete timetable in 2022 and beyond.”
Highlights from the report include:
- Automakers are broadening the scope of their outreach with disability groups with some automakers engaging with local and national disability groups in discussions on design standards and user testing.
- Auto manufacturing companies are forming internal cross-departmental staff working groups on accessibility.
- Companies are continuing work on accessibility challenges such as an accessible human-machine interface (HMI).
Accessible transportation is a cornerstone of participation in today’s society, and present options do not meet the disability community’s needs. No major manufacturer producing a vehicle for sale to the consumer is built with accessibility as a cornerstone of the user experience. For millions of people with disabilities who cannot attain a driver’s license and those that must rely on vehicles that market modifications just to get around, the autonomous vehicle (AV) technology currently under development holds the promise to deliver access to new transportation options. And with billions of dollars being invested in developing this new technology, this moment presents the opportunity to ensure that new vehicle designs — autonomous or driven by humans — are accessible to all.
No major manufacturer is producing a vehicle for sale to the consumer that is built with accessibility as a cornerstone of the user experience. Further, no major automaker produces a purpose-built light-duty vehicle that can accommodate a wheelchair user. The average wheelchair user must spend between $10,000 – $30,000 on substantial modifications to purchase a vehicle that is accessible. This price tag is often too high for the average person.
As part of its role as convener of the We Will Ride campaign, AAPD developed the scorecard to track automotive industry (OEM) progress toward creating an accessible vehicle. The scorecard was first announced in 2019 and issued its first public progress report on the 30th anniversary of the passage of the ADA in 2020.
Current research suggests that travel-limited people, older adults, and people with disabilities make up a significant market for transportation services. Specifically, we estimate that there are 18.5 million travel-limited individuals in the U.S., of which 5.7 million are wheelchair-using, and, of those, 1.4 million use a motorized wheelchair. In addition:
- The range of the travel-limited population that has the means to use a ride-sharing service is between 11.2 to 15.4 million.
- The estimated range of the wheelchair-using population that has the means of purchasing private vehicles or using a ride-sharing service is between 3.6 and 5.0 million.
- The range of the motorized wheelchair-using population that has the means of purchasing private vehicles or using a rideshare service is between 0.9 and 1.3 million.
- The wheelchair-using and the travel-limited populations are six times more likely to live in zero vehicle households and the motorized wheelchair-using population is eight times more likely; and,
- The market is projected to grow: The disability population is growing much faster than the population as a whole: 10.75% as opposed to a 0.74% growth rate for the US population. The Census Bureau projects that by 2030 there will be 21.5 million more wheelchair users — and that’s just among people 55 and older.
AAPD is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As one of the leading national cross-disability civil rights organizations, AAPD advocates for the full recognition of rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. AAPD’s programs and initiatives have been effective in mobilizing the disability community through communications advocacy; cultivating and training new and emerging leaders with disabilities through leadership development programs; increasing the political participation of Americans with disabilities and elevating the power of the disability vote through the REV UP (Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!) Campaign; and advancing disability inclusion in the workplace through the Disability Equality Index (DEI) — the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. To learn more about AAPD, visit www.aapd.com.