Technology on travel! A hard of hearing driver and a blind rider

I am a technology believer and great supporter of accessible technologies. Being a person with blindness, most of my daily activities highly depend on technology. My daily travel to office is not an exception.

I use UberExternal Website for my daily commute. Today morning when I have booked an Uber pass as usual the vehicle information screen has displayed on my phone. As I read it with VoiceOver after the vehicle information a strange message is read out by the screen reader. “Your rider may be hard of hearing”. OMG, how would be the ride? Rider being blind and the driver being hard-of-hearing. How do I communicate? Is this journey be challenging? Do I need to cancel the trip? Many questions popping up in my mind in that fraction of second.

Uber screen showing the trip details including driver information

Anxiety one side and a little nervousness on the other side, I decided to take the ride. I was carefully watching the ETA, nervousness increased in my mind and still a little confidence somewhere in my heart as the driver approaches my apartment. As soon as the ETA ticked 2 minutes I started stepping towards the lift. The driver have not called me until he reached the pick-up location. No challenge communicating so far.

My apartment watchman have located the vehicle, as he opened the rear door on the left side the driver asked “Is it Rakesh”. I have nodded my head in sign of agreement. If the profile picture of the rider can be updated on the app, even this barrier can be removed. As I got in the vehicle both of us have not spoken a single word. As most of the Indians who use these cab services know, we need to tell the exact building or streets as the driver approaches the destination. I am tensed as I can neither point to the office building nor can signal him the right direction. The driver is so professional as he could exactly locate and reach the destination. Needless to say he has driven with at most professionalism and by following all the traffic rules as far as my other senses can recognize.

I want to thank him personally while getting down but I don’t know even basics of Indian Sign Language. Any ways I can show my gratitude with a good rating and thanking him on the app. Most of us want to learn basics of some languages where we travel frequently but we never care to learn basics of sign language to communicate with those who have hard-of-hearing though many of them are in our near premises. The bill of the travel will automatically be deducted from my Paytm External Website account and technology helps here. In the entire journey from the time I booked the vehicle to the time I stepped down technology has communicated breaking the barriers of a blind rider and hard-of-hearing person.

The reason I want to post this article is to let people know how technology plays an important role in the lives of people with disabilities and to strongly emphasize on the significance of accessibility in these applications. Only because the Uber appExternal Website on my iPhone is accessible using voiceover this adventurous journey is comfortable. The journey of a blind rider is independent and the difficulty of the driver is known to the rider allowing them to communicate in the right channel. In my personal opinion if the rider has a disability letting the driver know about it may also increase the comfort. As far as I could remember, I have not observed any such information captured while registering as a rider on Uber.

5 Comments to "Technology on travel! A hard of hearing driver and a blind rider"

  1. July 7, 2017 - 10:16 am | Permalink

    Rakesh, by the way, I don’t think your driver is deaf or hard of hearing. If he was so, I was told there is a flaw in Uber app that if driver is using headphones, app marks him as deaf or hard of hearing! 🙂

  2. Chaitali Tannirwar's Gravatar Chaitali Tannirwar
    July 8, 2017 - 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting read Rakesh Sir…very valid point you have raised that letting the driver know about the disability of the rider if any for his safety and comfort. One question in daily routine how you locate the taxi?Do you feel there is a need of any feature in uber app to locate the taxi easily?

  3. timy's Gravatar timy
    July 11, 2017 - 4:14 am | Permalink

    Hi rakesh,
    Thanks for sharing your excellent experience!!!!
    sure, we have to hats to our great technology.
    truly said, we have to learn the sign language, but, any institution is ready to teach a visually impaired?, any idea?

  4. July 21, 2017 - 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Technology really helps, I have seen so many apps nowadays which can even let you find toilets and washroom. My son is disabled and He has been using certain applications to go through the city and It has helped him a lot. Technology ones works but not always.

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