The car service launched both new technology and a partnership with the National Association of the Deaf in an effort to assist hard-of-hearing drivers. The partnership highlights NAD’s ongoing interest in ride-sharing, which has proven a reliable path to employment for deaf adults.
When a Lyft driver learns that there’s a new ride out there, the phone puts out a small beep so the driver can hop on it.
The problem with that is that not every driver can hear that little beep—as many of Lyft’s users, whether drivers or passengers, are deaf or hard of hearing. The ride service is taking steps to help accommodate those users both through a technology and a partnership with the National Association of the Deaf.
Last week, NAD pointed out the usefulness of its Amp in-car communication tool, which puts visual messages in an easily viewable spot for drivers—particularly for those who struggle with hearing. The company is also taking steps to notify passengers that the driver is deaf or hard of hearing before they get in the car.
But the most interesting part of the announcement might be the deal that the company set up with NAD, which will help the company integrate technology that could help communication between deaf drivers and passengers, or vice versa.
“Through this partnership, Lyft and NAD will work together to develop further app improvements, grow awareness of economic opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing, and engage policymakers on the importance of ride-sharing access,” the company stated in a blog post.
NAD’s focus on this issue isn’t limited to Lyft; it had previously worked with Uber on accessibility issues, and in a Quartz piece from earlier this year, NAD’s CEO, Howard Rosenblum, noted that the issue was important to the association, as the employment rate for deaf or hard-of-hearing people tends to be lower than the public at large despite protections allowed through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.
The piece features a deaf Uber driver who found getting in the door easier with the service than getting hired by a traditional employer—but who feels that some of his low-scoring reviews might be attributable to customers not understanding that he was deaf.
This, says Rosenblum, is a tough issue to deal with, no matter the industry.
“The main barrier is the attitude of employers who believe that deaf and hard-of-hearing people are not able to perform the job, when the truth is deaf and hard-of-hearing people are dedicated and hardworking employees,” Rosenblum told the news outlet.