Uber is making changes to its driver-side app to provide better functionality for deaf and hard of hearing driver partners.
For years now, Uber’s driver-side app has used audio alerts to notify the driver when a passenger is waiting to be picked up. This put Uber’s deaf and hard of hearing drivers in the position of having to text their intended passenger to let them know that all communication would need to be text-based.
Today, however, the company is rolling out an update to the app that uses a visual alert (flashing lights) to notify drivers of the waiting passenger. The feature is opt-in, so hearing drivers can stick with the audio alert if they prefer.
The update also changes some of the functionality for passengers being picked up by deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers, removing the option to call your driver and prompting the user to input their final destination before the car arrives.
“When we talked to our driver partners who are deaf and hard of hearing, the most common thing we heard was that it was hard to get the destination information from a passenger who perhaps isn’t used to inputting their destination in the app,” said East Coast regional general manager Rachel Holt. “Things will be slightly different for users when they ride with a deaf or hard of hearing partner, and we’ll be collecting feedback and watching over the coming weeks and months whether or not the changes we made are appropriate and sufficient to provide a better experience on both sides.”
Uber worked alongside their driver partners as well as the National Association of the Deaf over the course of the past few months to develop the new features of the app.
It will initially roll out in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. as the company tests the changes, and will eventually launch across Uber’s entire network.