Autonomous vehicles are getting closer and closer to being on the streets around us. There are some already in use shuttling people from point A to point B. They are not yet out picking you up for the next cab or Uber you hail, but that doesn’t seem too far off. Recently, I had the opportunity to provide my input on making these future robot rides easier for mobility device users. It was great to be involved pointing out potential issues, but also the features I liked. Conducting these quick sessions provides researchers the opportunity to hear from users of all aspects and viewpoints. All mobility device users are not created equally, so our experiences and input are coming from those backgrounds.
Far too often, the forethought of accessibility is not considered by people outside of the disability realm. Unless the item is specifically meant for people with disabilities or has a high likelihood of our use, we aren’t sought for our input in the testing phase. Making it that much more important to participate in any opportunity to provide input. Getting on a list for a subject pool is a good idea. University of Michigan is constantly doing research and drawing from their research participant pool https://umhealthresearch.org/.
You never know what research is being conducted or future will bear from researchers. U of M is one of the top research facilities in the country. As a person with a spinal cord injury, I get contacted whenever someone is explicitly looking for SCI as subjects. There are also plenty of opportunities where disability isn’t a pre-req, just need people to participate. Often there is some incentive such as money or gift cards for being a participant in research as well. I don’t know how many studies I have been a participant, but I have had some life changing events come after simply replying to a call and taking part in a research study.