Ridesharing platforms such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have the capacity to greatly improve transportation services for blind passengers. Now, blind people can use a smart phone equipped with text-to-speech to independently summon a driver, learn details such as the name of their dispatched driver, the estimated time of arrival, the amount of their fare and a myriad of details that are not as conveniently accessible in traditional taxicabs. However, for those blind people who use service animals, there is often unpredictability and discrimination associated with ridesharing platforms. Many drivers for these rapidly growing ridesharing companies are refusing to accept blind passengers with service animals.
TRE Legal and Disability Rights Advocates recently approached Uber to try and negotiate with Uber to change its policies and practices pertaining to service animals on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind of California. After Uber refused to negotiate, TRE Legal and DRA filed a Complaint in federal court.
Most blind people want Uber and similar innovative technology companies to succeed and grow. However, technology companies must accept responsibility to serve their blind customers, whether it be making digital properties accessible or making reasonable modifications to policies and practices so that blind persons are not left out of the techno-social evolution. Blind persons who use service animals have the right to enjoy the reliability and convenience of ridesharing services just like everyone else.
TRE Legal and DRA want to hear from anyone in the blindness community who has been turned away from Uber or similar services because a driver refused to transport a service animal. The hope is that Uber will eventually come to the table with the National Federation of the Blind of California to discuss fixes to Uber’s policies and practices, rather than choosing to litigate the issue. Every blind person should be able to realize the benefits of the ridesharing economy.
See the Press Release for more information.