Volunteer Spotlight: Randall Duchesneau III
Posted: June 2, 2022
Randall Duchesneau III knows the value that standardization brings not only to the mobility industry, but to its users—the millions of every day people trying to get from point A to point B.
As an Accessibility Specialist at the United States Access Board, Duchesneau is uniquely positioned to consider a specific group within those users, people with disabilities, and how industry developments can help these folks gain back some of their independence when it comes to transportation.
For over a year, Duchesneau has been volunteering with SAE International as Vice Chair of the Automated Driving Systems Dedicated Vehicle, User Issues for Persons with Disabilities task force, lending his expertise to standardization efforts around automated and unmanned vehicles. As a volunteer with SAE, he’s been a part of a working group that is developing an SAE J Document that will clearly outline the needs of users with disabilities.
“Autonomous vehicles have the potential to completely revolutionize transportation for people with disabilities,” Duchesneau said. “Twenty-six percent of adults living in the United States have a disability, which includes people who are blind or have low vision, have mobility disabilities and may use mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, are deaf or had of hearing or have a cognitive disability.”
People within the groups Duchesneau mentions face challenges when it comes to getting around, he shared, and some are prohibited from obtaining driver’s licenses or have had their license revoked after becoming disabled, making them dependent on others to help them navigate their day-to-day tasks that require travel. Even in the cases of some who experience short-term disability, this can be frustrating as it limits their access to medical care, employment, and the community.
“Automotive manufacturers are recognizing the market opportunity for not only the future of personal vehicles, but also transportation providers that may have Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) obligations,” Duchesneau said. “However, understanding ADA requirements and the needs of people with disabilities can be challenging for people unfamiliar with the subject matter. As an Accessibility Specialist, I think it’s crucial to provide the automotive industry with vital information on accessible design so that manufacturers can ensure autonomous vehicles are accessible to everyone.”
New developments in technology are not only in the best interest of the vehicle occupants, but also their manufacturers, Duchesneau asserts. By his estimate, it’s more costly to retrofit a vehicle for accessibility than to incorporate it into the design from the beginning, and keeping accessibility in mind can save time and money while opening up the potential consumer base for vehicle manufacturers. The document that he and the rest of the work group are putting together will help automotive manufacturers who can design innovative solutions meet the needs of users with disabilities and include that wider range of consumers.
The work is a reminder to Duchesneau that no matter what we do, we’re all in this together.
“In volunteering with SAE, I’ve been able to have a direct impact and bring the voices of the disability community directly to the automotive industry,” he said. “My participation in this work continues the slogan ‘nothing about us without us,’ which all of us should keep in mind so that non-disabled people and the diasability community can work together to build a more accessible world.”
We love the future you’re helping to build, Randall. Thank you for bringing your vision to SAE!
June at SAE International is Volunteer Recognition Month, and we’ll be celebrating our volunteers and contributors all month long. Know a story we should tell? Contact Marketing Specialist Maria Graziano at firstname.lastname@example.org to share the details.