Transport Policy, Volume 127, October 2022,
Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology can help disabled Americans achieve their desired level of mobility. However, realizing this potential depends on vehicle manufacturers, policymakers, and state and municipal agencies collaborating to accommodate the needs of disabled individuals at different stages of trip making through information system design, vehicle design, and infrastructure design. Integrating accessibility at this stage of the AV revolution would finally allow us an opportunity to develop a transportation system that treats accessibility as a guiding principle, not as an afterthought. This paper documents accessibility considerations for disabled individuals followed by a review of relevant Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations. The review of regulations is followed by a review of nine case studies, five corresponding to the on-demand microtransit service model and four corresponding to the paratransit service model. These case studies are essentially different prototypes currently being deployed on a pilot basis. Each of these specific case studies is then evaluated for its ability to provide potential accessibility features that would fulfill the requirement set forth by relevant ADA regulations in the absence of an operator/driver. Based on this review of relevant research, ADA regulations, and case studies, recommendations are provided for researchers, private firms, policymakers, and agencies involved in AV development and deployment. The recommendations include better collaboration and adoption of best practices to address the needs of individuals with different disability types (e.g., Cognitive, Visual, Auditory). ADA regulations should be used as one of the tools in addition to universal design principles and assistive technologies in order to maximize accessibility.