Communication Aids5th February 2015

Uber Taxis – A deaf friendly future for transport?

Uber taxi app is proving to be useful for deaf people on both sides of the service.

by SL First

Pin Lu in his taxi (WSJ)Uber is a relatively new type of taxi service that’s taking the world by storm. This new app-based service is proving to be rather handy for deaf people on both sides of the service. 

Uber is currently available throughout many cities across the globe, but so far it’s only available in three of the larger UK cities – London, Manchester and Leeds. If you’ve never heard of it before, Uber is an app for your phone that allows you to search for a driver quickly and easily and it also has the added bonus of being able to tell you the expected cost of the journey before even booking it. All a user has to do is check the map for a nearby driver, tap on them to choose that cab, get in and away they go; their debit/credit card is automatically debited at the end of the journey. You can choose to book a regular taxi, or splash out and choose a large or luxury car for your travelling – at an extra cost of course.

Uber App - Selecting pickup point  Uber App - Expected fare

This obviously has some great advantages for deaf passengers everywhere as it means you can quickly order a taxi without the hassle of needing to phone anyone and can just indicate using the map on your phone where you need to go. If you want to know more or to check whether you live in a city covered by Uber you can do that on the Uber website.

It's also now becoming apparent that this app is not only a great benefit for passengers but also for deaf drivers. It's estimated that there are currently 40-50 deaf drivers that offer their driving services across the USA. One man in particular has recently been featured a number of times by American media and Uber itself, a Deaf man called Pin Lu.

Uber - Pin Lu with Taxi (Uber)

Pin started working as a UberX driver in 2014 using his own Honda Accord for this service and is proud to be rated so highly on the Uber app – his current score is almost 4.9 out of 5. When he picks up hearing passengers he hands them a short note that explains he’s Deaf and asks them to input where they’d like to go into the app. The note also lets them know that if they have a specific route they’d like to take they can tap his shoulder and use basic gestures to let him know which direction he should go. If they have any other questions then they can write them on the phone and he’ll reply to them.

Pin believes that this is a good job for Deaf drivers as its use of technology makes it much easier to communicate with the passengers than has ever been possible before and has been encouraging other Deaf friends to register to become drivers too. He also uses his job as an opportunity to educate the masses about the Deaf Community too; some people who get in his cab are interested in learning a little ASL (American Sign Language) and he’s happy to teach them, others lookup signs on their phones so they are able to sign ‘thank you’ when they arrive at their destination.

In his spare time, Pin loves travelling and also develops apps; he says he’d one day like to start his own business after making enough money from the taxi driving service.

Uber - Pin Lu with NY Skyline

If you’d like to know more about becoming a driver for Uber then you can register with them, and if you know of any Deaf Uber drivers in the UK, you should let us know – we’d love to feature them in SL First.

Sources: WSJ (first image) and Uber (other images).

Article by SL First

posted in Technology / Communication Aids

5th February 2015