IMPACT

Uber's Making It Easier For Deaf Drivers To Work For The Company

The improved technology helps deaf drivers accept fares and communicate with passengers with ease.

Uber’s technology is becoming even more accessible for its deaf drivers.

The mobile app currently has thousands of deaf drivers, and is now collaborating with Communication Service for the Deaf to make it easier for those drivers to accept fares and communicate with passengers, the company announced in a release on Tuesday. 

The app, for example, signals a new trip request with a flashing light, instead of an audio notification. When a deaf driver accepts a request, the passenger is notified that their driver is deaf and can only communicate via text message. And passengers are prompted to enter their destination in advance instead of telling the driver once they enter the vehicle.

CSD, an international nonprofit that elevates the quality of life for people who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard-of-hearing, is spending more than $1 million on its part of the partnership with Uber, The Washington Post reported. Uber declined to share how much it is investing in the initiative, but told the paper that it wants to be a leader in devising ways for deaf people to make a “flexible living.”

Even prior to the technology tweaks, deaf drivers proved to be an asset to the company.

On average, deaf Uber drivers provide more rides per month than hearing drivers, according to the company.

The opportunity could help drive down the steep unemployment rate among deaf people.

In the U.S., the unemployment rate is 72.5 percent in the deaf community, according to CSD. 

In addition to creating jobs for deaf people, supporters say the collaboration will also help foster better understanding among the deaf and hearing communities.

“It’s an opportunity,” Chris Soukup, CEO of CSD said in a statement, “to build bridges between people and influence a new perception of the abilities and humanity of deaf people.”

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