The company’s Accessibility Center of Excellence wants to change the way we think about cars.
The cruise control function has been around since the late 1950s, allowing drivers to keep a constant speed. Today, this often-standard feature is not just for rolling along while resting your right foot; drivers have learned over time that maintaining speed saves gas, too, and it smooths out the start-and-stop motion of average highway driving.
Today, GM is exploring other inventions for and by people with disabilities. The automaker is building an entire division dedicated to improving mobility for all called the Accessibility Center of Excellence, with benefits for all drivers and passengers.
Here’s what GM is doing in this important field.
Why accessibility matters
A few months back, my 79-year-old dad pulled into a parking space set aside for people with disabilities at a store in Florida. As he got out of the car, my father recalls that a stranger yelled at him using a derogatory term, saying that he probably didn’t even have a disability.
My father held out his artificial arm.
“Shake my hand,” he said dryly.
The nonprofit organization Disability:IN reports that there are about a billion people with disabilities on the planet, and roughly 25 percent of the US population is comprised of people with disabilities. While people might not notice an artificial arm or leg at first, it’s a visual and important clue that someone has a disability. Those with physical challenges as well as hearing loss, limited vision, or other non-apparent disabilities are doing the best they can in a world designed for people not living with disabilities, but there’s always room for improvement, and GM has put that high on its to-do list.
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