Uber – A Transportation Option for Those with Low Vision

Uber – A Transportation Option for Those with Low Vision

Posted on Sep.09, 2015, by , under Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info, Low Vision Tips

Recently I had lunch with my friend who leads a low vision support group and is legally blind from retinitis pigmentosa.  This summer she took a trip to Seattle and for the first time used an Uber driver to take her and her husband from their hotel to a nearby rose garden.   She commented on how convenient and affordable the service was and plans to use it again.   If you’ve never heard of Uber it is an American company based in San Francisco, California but provides transportation to riders in over 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide.  Here is how it works:

  1. Create an Account

First you need to create an account that asks for an email, password, name, cell phone number and preferred language.  Next you need to enter your credit card information for them to have on file since all arrangements and payments are done electronically.

  1. Download the Uber app onto your iPhone or Android device
  2. Request a Pick up

Connect to a driver by tapping or using the VoiceOver iOS feature.  The closest driver in your vicinity will get the notice via their smart phone with the details of your pickup location. You can text or call your driver to let him/her know you are visually impaired or that you have a guide dog.

  1. Payment

When the rider has reached his destination the fare is automatically billed to the customer’s credit card on file.  The receipt is sent to the rider in an email.  There is no need to take out the right amount of cash from your wallet or the right credit card and tips are not required.

  1. Drivers

Drivers can be rated by the rider.  There have been some issues in the past of Uber drivers refusing to take passengers with guide dogs however Uber now has a zero tolerance policy for this behavior.  Uber drivers use their own cars to transport passengers.  At the time of this writing the car needs to be either 2000 or 2005 and newer depending on the city.   Drivers need to pass a background check, have a personal license and registration and be at least 21 years old.  Many drivers have full time jobs and become Uber independent contractors and work during their days or evenings off.

Uber is working with  the National Federation of the Blind and Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco to partner with the blind and those with low vision.   This service allows those who are visually impaired to experience more independence in getting to work, making appointments, visiting  family, shopping for groceries or enjoying a night out with friends.  Mike May, who is blind,  advocates for the blind and visually impaired as a technology consultant tto Uber Technologies. He frequently uses Uber as a means of transportation with his service dog Tank.  “I work closely with Uber as a technology consultant to test their VoiceOver iOS compatibility and enhance the Uber experience for riders who are blind or visually impaired.  As a blind rider,  I know what a game changer Uber has been for many people.  My goal working with Uber is to help ensure that the technology continues to be a great transportation option for the blind and low vision community.”

Mike May, CEO of Sendero Group,  Technology Consultant to Uber Technologies

To read more about Uber’s commitment to the blind and those with low vision and to listen to a podcast by Mike May about how those with low vision can take advantage of this transportation resource visit:

Uber’s Commitment to the Blind and Low Vision Community

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN