Daytona Beach, Florida – A new non-visual interface technology allows blind drivers to operate vehicles. The system, installed in a Ford Escape, will be demonstrated by a blind driver on the Daytona International Speedway next January as part of the pre-race activities at the 2011 Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The technology is a partnership of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

“The National Federation of the Blind is dedicated to the development of innovative technology to improve the lives of blind Americans, and Virginia Tech has accepted our challenge to apply non-visual interfaces to the task of driving, which has always been wrongly considered impossible for blind people,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of NFB. “But we are not trying to build a technology alone. We are trying to build a technology that can be combined with an intellect to do things that neither could do alone. We are pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate the fruits of our efforts before the automobile enthusiasts and racing fans at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. This demonstration will break down the wall of stereotypes and misconceptions that prevent our full integration into society by showing the public that the blind have the same capacities as everyone else. Our only challenge is access to the information we need.”

The Ford is a second-generation prototype, following a modified dune buggy that was demonstrated at the NFB Youth Slam in the summer of 2009.

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