Self-driving cars can evoke many images. For some, they invoke those happy images portrayed in positive visions of the future found in science fiction. Others are worried about what happens if something goes wrong. For many disabled people, these cars mean employment.

Major barrier to employment can be fixed by self-driving cars

Go on Craigslist or any job site, and if you can winnow your way through the pyramid scams, you'll find that a lot of jobs require a driver's license, Even if the job doesn't list driving as a job duty. For a non-trivial amount of disabled people, the driver's license requirement translates to "you need not apply." The disabilities that can keep people off the road can range from visual impairments to epilepsy.

Even things like autism can impact their ability to drive. A self-driving car can get people around those barriers. According to the study released by the Ruderman Family Foundation, 2 million people would have expanded employment opportunities.

Self-driving cars can also remove other barriers as well. While many disabled people try to live around areas with robust public transit, for some this isn't possible, particularly in more rural areas where public transit isn't seen as necessary. Even in places where there is public transit, being restricted only to the operating hours of the service can be limiting, especially for young adults. One of these cars can be liberating. However, there are some limitations.

The limitations of self-driving cars

For starters, self-driving cars have not been perfected, so it will be a couple of years before they are commercially available. There's also the matter of safety. Stories of people running their cars into random objects or into ditches just blindly following the GPS apps on their phone abound.

And these are people with sight; It could be an even bigger problem for a blind person who may not recognize that their car is about to lead them into a ditch.Thankfully, companies designing the cars, such as Optimus Ride, are trying to work with the Disability community.

The bigger issue will be affordability. Even as the cars become more mass produced, many disabled people are living in poverty.

They may not be able to afford a vehicle and the expenses that come with it, Limitations aside, a lot of disability rights advocates are monitoring this with cautious optimism. As the saying goes, "For the able-bodied, technology makes life convenient. For the disabled technology makes life possible."