I wrote the following last night in a comment to a fellow disability blogger, Emily at Words I Wheel By, who just passed the road test for her driver’s license:
"Considering the amount of money and time spent trying to “help” people with disabilities, it’s kind of amazing how little organized effort there is helping us get driver’s licenses, cars, and driving adaptations. There is almost nothing … short of a wheelchair if you need one … that instantly bestows mobility and gets us closer to equality like a driver’s license and a car we can drive."
It’s really true, and not much talked about, it seems to me. Back around 2009 - 2010 when the Obama Administration was discussing what kind of economic stimulus to propose, I remember thinking that they should figure out a way to buy a van or other vehicle for every significantly disabled person in American who was demonstrably capable of driving or learning to drive, with adaptations if necessary. I have no idea how much money that would cost, or how it could be done without pissing off as many people as it helped (because of course, thousands of disabled people wouldn’t make the cut to qualify, no matter how you designed the program).
Still, a drivable car with adaptations buys one hell of a lot of independence and work readiness for someone with a disability. And the biggest barrier to us getting behind the wheel isn’t physical problems, it’s affordability. Just buying disabled people cars would be money well spent.