Tagged with: accessibility ADA assistive technology awareness car modifications disability disability rights inclusion Technology transportation wheelchair
While consumers around the nation have benefited from ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft, people with disabilities have been neglected by such services. In fact, Uber has recently been targeted by multiple lawsuits for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. What can drivers do to better address accessibility concerns?
Since this controversy made headlines, both companies unveiled plans to offer more accessible vehicles, though these efforts have been unfruitful. Offerings like UberWAV and Lyft’s Accessible Vehicle Dispatch should theoretically resolve this issue, but extremely limited availability has only led to further complaints.
On an individual level, on-demand drivers should strive to equip their vehicles to to serve every customer. With some changes, most vehicles can be modified to serve customers with disabilities. The following car modifications are designed to improve accessibility:
Rideshare drivers with minivans, full-sized vans, or SUVs can install lifts or ramps to help people who use wheelchair board a vehicle. Depending on the model, a hatchback lift, hitch mounted platform, hybrid lift, or a mid-section cargo area lift could be installed. Wheelchair lifts range in price from $2,500 to $15,000.
This may be a barrier to entry for many, but there are other options; owners may choose to use a ramp instead. While automatic electric ramps are convenient, budget-conscious drivers can choose to use a simple portable ramp. These are cost-efficient and can be deployed when needed.
If a driver opts to use a wheelchair ramp, they may want to consider using handrails. ADA guidelines dictate that they should be between 34 to 38 inches high. While handrails are optional, they can be a helpful addition to many customers.
Clients with accessibility needs often require extra space. Some passengers may need to store a wheelchair during transit, while others could need more space to accommodate a guide dog. Many vehicles can be modified to generate additional storage space. There are many inexpensive mods to increase storage space. Installing a wheelchair anchor point in a storage area will allow passengers to secure their equipment and comply with wheelchair tiedown standards.
Keep in mind that people with visual impairment may require the assistance of a service animal. Uber drivers have a history of refusing to pick up people who have a visual impairment for this reason. In order to avoid being a part of this shameful trend, drivers need ensure that their vehicle has room to accommodate such needs. Extra storage space can help drivers create room for service animals.
Vehicle Transfer Seat
For people who may need assistance getting in and out of vehicles, a vehicle transfer seat is a major convenience. They are designed to turn and lower out of the vehicle, giving passengers easy access. After getting seated, the chair can be raised and repositioned with minimal effort.
While this equipment is not mandated by the ADA, it is an extremely useful addition to any rideshare vehicle. Prices for vehicle transfer seats range from $3,000 to $8,000, though most vendors offer payment plans. Installing seat swivels is a less expensive alternative, though they are less helpful than modern transfer seats.
Automatic Door/Window Opener
They are not cutting edge technology, but automatic door and window openers are a welcome addition for people who have ALS — or any other issues that may affect fine motor skills. Automatic door openers, also known as “door poppers”, can help those who are unable to grasp the door handle or pull a car door open. Likewise, automatic window openers can give passengers the option of lowering their window without great effort.
Fortunately, many modern cars already have these features. Drivers who want to upgrade their vehicles with these features can do so with just a little money and effort. Kits cost as little as $60 and take less than thirty minutes to install.
These simple changes can help rideshare drivers offer their services to a wider range of customers. While ongoing lawsuits will hopefully result in widespread reform in the rideshare industry, current drivers should explore accessibility modifications. As Uber and Lyft struggle to meet accessibility demands, drivers should keep in mind that they have a duty to meet the needs of their customers.