When Salman, an Uber driver in Mumbai, could not take calls from passengers, customers would cancel his ride. He would also have to text every rider to let them know that he’s deaf, which caused delays when picking up his riders.
Uber just made life easier for him and several drivers across the world who are deaf or hard of hearing.
An update to the taxi-hailing app, which was launched in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., has now gone live in India.
While there has been no official announcement on this yet, Uber has confirmed this development in India.
So, how does the app work?
Once a driver chooses to turn on the special features by flipping a switch inside the app, a light will flash when a new trip is requested in addition to the existing audio cue.
The passengers won't be able to call the driver as that option will be blocked. Riders who want to provide special pickup instructions, can only to do so via text.
The app also adds an extra screen for passengers to enter their destination alongside a note that lets them know their driver is deaf or hard-of-hearing.
“We hope [these features] help extend the earning opportunity that Uber presents to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” Ben Metcalfe, head of product innovation at Uber, wrote in his blog.
Miraj Vora, who took a ride with Salman, tweeted that he happy with his experience.
"I had a great ride with Salman. We spoke about his new life as a driver in Mumbai and it was a peaceful ride overall," he told HuffPost India.
Though the learning process is the same for all drivers, the trainers usually spend more time with them. "We are also planning to get professional aid for training," Uber spokesperson said.
As reported by WHO, there are about 250-300 million deaf people in the world, with 66 percent of them live in the underdeveloped nations, and India has the largest share.
A spokesperson from Uber said that not too many deaf drivers have signed up for it yet.
But, this is just the beginning of the initiative and a much appreciated one.
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