Ridesharing and Accessibility

Published May 24, 2022

Ridesharing services have become a key resource for people getting around without their own vehicle or access to public transportation, and creating accessible experiences in this space requires the consideration of both physical and digital accessibility standards.

App accessibility

Accessing ride-sharing services usually relies on the use of a mobile application, so providing users with an accessible app to use is crucial. Apps should be designed to make use of mobile devices’ built-in screen readers and other accessibility features, and users should be able to create and log in to their account and use the features of the application without barriers. A well-designed app should be navigable and responsive without users needing to rely on an external source of information to get set up and achieve their goal, but accessible tutorials should still be available for those who may need to review that information.

Communication

Options to speak with one another by both call and text should be included to ensure that passengers and drivers alike have an accessible means of communication available. Giving passengers and drivers the option to notify each other of their preferred means of communication in advance could also be a useful feature.

Payment

Cashless payments can be helpful for those who may face barriers when using physical currency. It will also reduce the need for physical contact between the passenger and driver, which may be preferred or necessary depending on the circumstances.

Unfortunately, it looks as if the option for cash is slowly being phased out of transportation, which can have a negative impact on persons with disabilities that do not have a bank account or other ways to pay electronically. 

Safety

Since safety can be a concern for many, passengers should be able to keep track of and share their location during their ride. Additionally, all users should be able to safely report any issues they may encounter about their ride or their experience with the app at any point.

Vehicle accessibility

One of the things that makes ridesharing unique is the fact that it relies on the vehicles of individual drivers, so while it may be possible to have certain eligibility guidelines regarding vehicles, guaranteeing an identical experience with each driver and vehicle is not realistic. However, creating comprehensive guidelines and requirements can help improve the consistency of the experiences passengers may have, as well as ensure that drivers have a solid understanding of how to better serve them.

Assistive devices

Passengers cannot and should not be turned away due to a disability, so it’s important to ensure that those who are traveling with assistive devices have access to vehicles. People who use wheelchairs, for example, should be able to book a ride in a vehicle in which their wheelchair can be folded and stored. For those who may use fixed-frame wheelchairs or scooters, a wheelchair-accessible vehicle (WAV) may be necessary, so recruiting drivers who have these vehicles can help ensure these individuals are not excluded from access to ridesharing services.

Physical Assistance

People who may need assistance from the driver—be that with storing and retrieving their assistive devices or getting to and from the vehicle—should also be considered, and guidelines ensuring drivers are aware of their responsibility to assist can help reduce barriers to those passengers.

Service animals

The accompaniment of service animals is covered and protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and people traveling with service animals cannot and should not be denied access due to their disability or the presence of their service animal. Drivers should be well educated on this law, as well as on the official policies and guidelines regarding how to navigate situations they may encounter when a service animal is present.

Additional considerations

Discrimination

Passengers should not be discriminated against for any disability or other protected status, and spelling this out in policies and guidelines can help keep drivers informed and passengers protected.

Employment

It’s important to remember that anti-discrimination policies and accessibility accommodations should also protect drivers and other employees or contractors. An individual who is legally able to drive—or provide whatever service they may be applying to provide—should be eligible to be considered as a candidate, and those who are hired or offered contracts should be provided with protections and reasonable accommodations if needed.

Transportation is a necessity in today’s world, and ridesharing service providers have a responsibility to ensure that they are actively reducing barriers and improving access both to those looking to use their transportation services and those providing these services through their platforms.

AccessibilityPlus 2022

Accessibility.com is proud of our role in promoting accessibility and equal access while recognizing there is much work to be done. As we welcome a new year in 2022, we have opened registration for AccessibilityPlus 2022, which will feature monthly events dedicated to promoting actionable solutions in implementing accessibility initiatives. Registration is limited. For more information about the conference, speakers, and topics, please visit our AccessibilityPlus registration page.

AccessibilityPlus 2022

Accessibility.com is proud of our role in promoting digital accessibility and equal access for all while recognizing there is much work to be done. As we welcome a new year in 2022, we have opened registration for AccessibilityPlus 2022, which will feature events dedicated to promoting actionable solutions in implementing digital accessibility initiatives. Registration is limited. For more information about the conference, speakers, and topics, please visit our AccessibilityPlus Event Calendar.

Registrations for our August event Add to Cart: Creating an Accessible e-Commerce Experience are now available at no cost for Accessibility.com viewers for a limited time.

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