May 19, 2022
Douglas Ito, Director
Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division
California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
RE: NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND RESPONSE IN SUPPORT OF RESOLUTION TL-19137
Dear Director Ito:
The National Federation of the Blind, the transformative membership and advocacy organization of blind Americans, calls on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to approve Resolution TL-19137, approving Cruise for a driverless deployment permit.
With affiliates in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the National Federation of the Blind coordinates many programs, services, and resources to defend the rights of blind Americans, provide information and support to blind children and adults, and build a community that creates a future full of opportunities. We believe in blind people because we are blind people—from our democratically elected leaders to our diverse nationwide membership.
Independence for blind people – allowing them to live the lives they want – is at the core of the National Federation of the Blind’s mission and values, and we support Cruise's work to bring autonomous vehicles to market precisely because they will give blind people greater independence in transportation.
I testified in February 2020 before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and said, "Blind Americans are enthusiastic about the prospect of autonomous vehicles. By potentially enhancing our independence by providing reliable transportation that we can access whenever we need it, just as other Americans are currently able to do, autonomous vehicles would also improve our productivity, economic outcomes, and community engagement."
Cruise has been a strong partner with the National Federation of the Blind and our various programs, communicating with us regularly about their technology and listening to our feedback on how to ensure equal access to the service in order to meet the CPUC's goals of expanding transportation options. While we understand this permit applies to limited portions of San Francisco, blind people live across the Bay Area and throughout all of California, and we hope that Cruise's AV service is allowed to expand as quickly as is safely possible.
For all the reasons stated above, the National Federation of the Blind urges the CPUC to expeditiously approve Resolution TL-19137, and allow Cruise to bring its commercial service to the public. Please do not hesitate to contact either of us, Mark Riccobono at [email protected], or Tim Elder at [email protected], if we can be of further assistance.
Mark A. Riccobono, President
National Federation of the Blind
Tim Elder, President
National Federation of the Blind of California