Redesigning Transportation for People with Physical Disabilities

Transportation is not viewed as a basic human right. There are few laws created by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding personal transportation and auto manufacturers. If a person can’t get to work or other activities, how can they participate in their community, in society? Currently, there are 2.7 million people in the world that rely on wheelchairs (Koontz et al., 2015). Auto manufacturers and the ADA view modifications to vehicles as the individual’s responsibility. Traditionally, transportation design has been an exclusive field catering to the elite. Designers have evoked feelings of dominance, seduction, and aggression through their unique and complex exterior design. The semantics of exterior and interior vehicle design have cemented the cultural belief that vehicles are objects of power and independence. These objects are an extension of oneself representing our image or projection of ourselves. Consumers with disabilities do not have accessible vehicles that evoke feelings of power, dominance, and seduction. Current market solutions for people with disabilities are objects of oppression and offer no connection to oneself other than functionally.¬†

Currently, if a user of a wheelchair wants to buy a car there are many things they must consider. They must first assess the type of wheelchair which determines the model of the car they can buy and use. There are many different types of wheelchairs but this paper focuses on motorized wheelchairs and wheelchairs that weigh over 150 pounds. There are only a few categories of cars that can be modified because the vehicle needs to be big enough to offset the weight of the wheelchair, wheelchair lift, and battery(s). These types of cars are SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks with the most common being SUV and VANs. To get a vehicle modified, they must go through an independent modification company such as BraunAbility or another smaller manufacturer.

With these factors in mind, How can car manufacturers be more inclusive to those individuals with disabilities?


My solution is a three part solution for Mercedes and how they can implement into their product current lineup within the next 10 years