Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Lure of the Open Road

Virginia Tech University has been working with the National Federation of the Blind to develop a vehicle which can be driven by someone who is blind. From a prototype in 2009 to driving the Daytona Speedway in January of this year, it’s truly amazing to watch.

The Today Show did a feature this past weekend on the car and the driver, and if you didn’t know better, you’d swear the driver was not blind.

Here is a YouTube video that explains the technology behind the vehicle.

And here is an article that appeared in Collegiate Times

When Ashley finds out about this she will be pestering me to get her one!! She is my child who would love to jump in the car and go driving everywhere. She is also the one who would probably get a speeding ticket within the first week of driving.

But the child I want to convince to learn to drive is Ronnie. He’s not blind, but he believes that he cannot ever drive because of his spina bifida and the fact that he uses a wheelchair. I tell him all the time that there are special hand controls for cars, and he just signs, “silly, no there aren’t.”

So where does a person that needs to use hand controls for a car learn to drive? Perhaps if I could show him such a place, he would believe me. Confidence and belief in his abilities are not his strongest points, but I aim to change that!

Oh, and one more thought, how would a blind person get a driver’s license if they can’t pass the eye test given at DMV???


Cheryl said...

I don't know about Richmond, but call the National Rehab Hospital in DC. They could probably refer you. Have you talked to your local VR folks? In MD they pay for driving lessons and even do their own evals in Baltimore. Unfortunately, as sure as I was I could drive, it didn't work out for me. People keep telling me to try again. They say new stuff has come out. I wish Ronnie could see my friends' adapted vehicle. It's operated w/o a key or traditional steering wheel. It just has a knob. Her arms/hands are too small for a steering wheel...

Anonymous said...

Here is a place in Virginia that at least should be able to help you find what you need.