Uber Canada teams up with the Canadian Hearing Society to expand work opportunities for deaf drivers

While the unemployment rate in Canada is now below 7%, many people who are Deaf or hard of hearing still struggle to find work. Unemployment among the Deaf and hard of hearing is around 40%. Here at Uber, we have added unique product features to make it easier for these men and women to drive on our platform. And today we’re taking the next step by partnering with the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS), the largest non-profit agency in Canada serving people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.

Together, we’ll be working on promoting driver-partner opportunities for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing and sharing best practices and technology that contributes to improved communication.

The partnership includes:

  • promoting driver-partner opportunities for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing
  • developing new features, and sharing best practices and technology that contribute to improved communication between the driver and client
  • introducing a new Uber “CHS First Ride Free” program that gives Deaf and hard of hearing clients a $20 discount on their first ride
  • launching a promotion September 26-29 that will see $1 from every uberWAV and uberASSIST ride taken in Canada to be donated to the CHS

Julia Dumanian, President and CEO of the Canadian Hearing Society, explained why they’re so excited about the partnership: “Uber has incorporated accessible technology for Deaf and hard of hearing people directly into their app, providing unprecedented access for the Deaf community to have gainful employment by driving with and using Uber as a service.” She added, “Today, we are celebrating this announcement and how it will help increase accessibility and communication between Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people.”

Deaf and hard of hearing drivers have already proven to be tremendous partners, providing more rides per month on average than other drivers.

“I get to meet new and interesting riders all the time and drive for people who have never interacted with the Deaf community before,” said Shafiul Hoque, a Deaf Toronto-based driver-partner who has completed more than 1000 trips with Uber. “Plus, I’m able to make money in a flexible way so I can pursue my other passions, like spending time with my family, playing with my two young children and going on vacation.”

Our research team has worked closely with Deaf and hard of hearing drivers to better understand the challenges they face and how we can improve their experience. We recently added the ability for partners to self-identify as Deaf or hard of hearing in the partner app, which unlocks the following features for drivers and their riders:

  • Flashing trip request. The driver’s app signals a new trip request with a flashing light instead of the usual audio notification, making it easier for partners to notice when there’s a new opportunity to give someone a ride.
  • Text-only communication with riders. The app disables the rider’s ability to call a Deaf or hard of hearing partner — instead they are directed to text their driver if they need to communicate with them. Partners who use this setting are less likely to have rides cancelled after a failed phone call.
  • Riders are notified the driver is Deaf or hard of hearing. A message appears letting the rider know that their driver is Deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Additional prompt for rider destination. Once a driver-partner accepts a ride, the rider will be prompted to enter their destination in advance rather than telling the driver and asking them to enter the destination manually. The app can then provide turn-by-turn directions for the driver.
  • To celebrate our new partnership with CHS, we participated in their annual International Week of the Deaf event “Creating an Accessible World.”

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