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AAPD Publishes 2022 Progress Report on Automobile Accessibility Scorecard Results
Report shows significant internal accessibility progress at auto manufacturers over the past year
Washington, D.C. – Today, as it honors of the 32nd anniversary of passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) issued its third 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 31 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.
“Despite unprecedented supply chain challenges and an ongoing global pandemic, auto manufacturers have made progress toward the development of an accessible, autonomous light duty vehicle ” said Maria Town, President and CEO at AAPD. “In an era of heightened infection risk for people with disabilities and compromised immune systems, development of new accessible mobility options is more urgent than ever.”
This year’s progress report found that, over the last year, significant internal progress has been made on vehicle accessibility. Through supply chain dislocation and a continued pandemic, auto companies are making measurable progress. And in an era of prolonged Covid exposure and heightened risk of new global disease threats, development of new mobility options for immune-compromised people – including many people with disabilities – is more urgent than ever before.
Highlights from the report include:
- Significant progress on new vehicle design and development
- Automakers disclose that next-generation vehicles will include a wide range of accessibility features, including wheelchair securement.
- New partnerships to provide ADA-compliant accessible vehicle options in AV company fleet.
Accessible transportation is a cornerstone of participation in today’s society, and present options leave disabled people behind. No major auto manufacturer is producing a vehicle for sale to the consumer that is built with accessibility as a cornerstone of the user experience. Further, although we have seen advancements in accessible user interfaces, no major automaker produces a purpose-built light duty vehicle that can accommodate a wheelchair user. The average wheelchair user must spend between $20,000 – $40,000 above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for substantial modifications to purchase a vehicle that is accessible. This price tag is often too high for most people, and particularly disabled people who experience higher rates of poverty.
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is supporting the deployment of safe, accessible autonomous transportation services through robust engagement with companies bringing autonomous transportation options to market. By forming authentic and reciprocal partnerships with companies working on autonomous vehicles (AVs), we work to address the challenges of accessible design and achieve our goal: full production of light-duty passenger vehicles that are affordable and accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities.
As part of its role as convener of the We Will Ride campaign, AAPD developed a scorecard that rates the automotive industry’s progress toward creating an accessible vehicle. The scorecard was first announced in 2019, on the 29th anniversary of the passage of the ADA. Over the last two years, we have released public progress reports on original equipment manufacturer (OEM) accessibility efforts. These progress reports provide a window into the plans of autonomous vehicle companies building vehicles or providing transportation services to the public.
Current research suggests that travel-limited people, older adults, and people with disabilities make up a significant market for transportation service. 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.