Yesterday, Uber launched a new tool that teaches users how to sign simple phrases in American Sign Language for better communication with Uber drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing. The company has a dedicated website, ubersignlanguage.com, to help users learn. The website is an extension of an outreach effort launched by the company in 2015 to recruit more drivers from the deaf community and provide more opportunities.
When you get matched with a deaf driver while waiting for a ride, you are offered the option of learning a few ASL signs in the app. The tool will provide you with several basic phrases such as “I am [your name],” “hello,” and “thank you.” You can also give navigational instructions such as “turn right ahead” or “turn left ahead.”
Uber notes that the unemployment or underemployment rate in the deaf community is close to 70 percent. The company says that “proud to provide earning opportunities to Deaf and Hard of Hearing drivers across the world and in more than 200 US cities.”
The company says that it has thousands of deaf or hard of hearing drivers, but didn't provide an exact number. A company spokesperson did say that as a whole, deaf drivers have given over a million trips.