Thursday, June 30, 2016
Uber and the Disability Law Center team up for better transit
By Nate Crippes
Utah Disability Law Center
Technology is constantly improving. This includes assistive technology, as I am sure many readers have seen. At the Disability Law Center, we advocate for people with disabilities to get the assistive technology they need. Rarely have we been able to advocate for the improvement of technology. Over the last few months, however, we received such an opportunity.
Here at the DLC, we are aware that people who use wheelchairs have little access to taxicabs and similar services. As we were looking into options to try to force their hands at providing some access, we were put in touch with the folks at Uber. We were aware that Uber has been operating their Uber Assist program, an option for Uber riders that is able to provide more assistance for people with disabilities, in Utah for quite some time. While this program can help certain people in wheelchairs, it did not provide access to people who use power chairs.
The DLC and Uber worked together to find vehicles, and drivers, that were equipped to provide riders to people who use power chairs. After a few months and several meetings, we were able to get a vehicle provider on board to get Uber WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) up and running.
Last month, Andrew Riggle, DLC Public Policy Advocate, and Ms. Wheelchair Utah, Eliza McIntosh, took the inaugural Uber WAV ride to the Utah Center for Assistive Technology in Salt Lake City.
In order to request a ride, once you have the Uber app, you just select “Access” on the vehicle icon slider and select WAV. Unfortunately, vehicles may be limited at this time, until we get more providers and drivers on the app. However, Uber is aware when rides are requested, and an increased demand will help us get more vehicles on the platform to ensure more access.