Will you be driving an autonomous car?

It may be that self-driving cars are not as futuristic than we had once believed, with the testing of autonomous cars already happening in the US and approval for trials in the UK. Apart from those who like to have the latest technology, autonomous cars will have substantial benefits for people who cannot drive themselves. With all terrain mobility scooters helping disabled people visit places that were once difficult to travel to, the introduction of autonomous cars will be another step forward in allowing disabled people more independence.

Disabled woman drives autonomous car.

The past couple of decades has seen the positive effects that technology can have on the lives of disabled people. Autonomous cars are set to be the next big technological advance for disabled individuals, with many studies showing that disabled people can feel isolated, at times, due to a lack of effective transport services. This new technology could assist and help to drastically improve any individuals experiencing a level of exclusion. Schemes and policies have gone a fair way to help provide a sense of independence, although the level of independence provided by the arrival of autonomous cars will make a substantial difference to the lives of many elderly and disabled individuals.

However, it is yet to be proven whether people will opt to use these new cars. Only on the acceptance of these autonomous cars being cleared as safe to use will we see them being a viable option. This is obviously an exciting and life-changing prospect for many. However, there will need to be more plans needed before we see the cars on the road.

There are obviously many questions surrounding this new technology, including the need for a ‘driver’ in case of a problem. International laws indicate that a driver must be present at all times to control the vehicle. If a disabled individual, who is not able to drive themselves, would want to use an autonomous car they would still need a passenger who would be able to control the vehicle in case of an emergency. Under this current law, the autonomous car seems somewhat pointless.

Solutions to this issue could be developing a system that is monitored from a central location, and that can over-ride the controls of a car if necessary. This would solve the issue in regards for a driver always needing to be in control of the car, but may pose even more problems in terms of infrastructure, technological capabilities of manufacturers and privacy of users.

It may be a little while off until we see everyone using autonomous cars on the road.

Image credit:  DimiTVP available under Creative Commons.

Disability employment still a huge issue according to new report

There are many difficulties faced for people that need high quality mobility scooters. As well as navigation around places that are not fully equipped for wheelchair users, employment is still a huge issue for disabled individuals.

In light of the stark realities highlighted in the ‘Realising Aspirations for All’ report, by the national disability charity Sense, the government will now work closely with the charity on the upcoming Green Paper into work and health. The report showed the employment inequalities face by many disabled jobseekers across the UK.

The Minister for Welfare Reform has praised the new report by Sense, stating that the government echo their hopes for all disabled people, with health conditions, to reach their full potential and achieve occupational aspirations.

The report found that young deafblind individuals are the most marginalised group in society, with a very small percentage (4%) of people aged 18-25 year-old with dual sensory impairments in employment.

For the broader spectrum of disabled individuals, 46% are currently not in employment; this means that the rate of employment is 30% lower than their non-disabled peers. The scenario is significantly worse for individuals who have multiple disabilities with research indicating that individuals who have five or more impairments are 61% less likely to be in employment in comparison to non-disabled peers.

When in employment disabled people face even more prejudice, with lower paid jobs and difficulties in career progression, with few holding a senior managerial role.

Disability employment rates still low, including senior managerial roles

In the last election, the government made a pledge to diminish the barriers that disabled people face when searching for work, with a commitment to halving the disability employment gap to get a million more disabled individuals into work by 2020.

The report by Sense highlighted advice for the government in terms of employment policies to help the current issue.

The Head of Public Policy at Sense, Kate Finch has responded to the government’s support: “We’re pleased that the government has welcome our ‘Realising Aspirations for All’ report by making a commitment to work with us to ensure that all disabled people are able to fulfil their potential… Negative employer attitudes, inaccessible recruitment and ineffective work support programmes are part of a number of barriers that are preventing disabled people from securing employment…We look forward to working closely with the government on their important Green Paper and supporting them to ensure we level the playing field for disabled jobseekers and help them to realise their aspirations.”