Accessibility isn’t just for those with a disability; inclusion benefits all of us. Adding a visual notification to an auditory one hurts nobody, and it allows people with a hearing impairment to participate in normal activities — like driving for a ride-sharing company. Luckily, Lyft has just added two little tweaks to its system to empower drivers with a hearing impairment.
Typically, Lyft drivers hear an audible “ping” when they get a new ride, which isn’t the best way to notify someone with a hearing impairment. Now, though, Lyft will visually notify its drivers of a new ride with large text on the company’s new in-car display, Amp. This device already lights up, changes color, and can send little happy messages to riders; why not add something to benefit the driver, too?
Lyft has also started letting riders know when their driver is deaf or hard of hearing. Before the car arrives, passengers will get a text message telling them to contact their driver via text instead of voice, and to let the driver lead the communication when in the car. It’s such a simple thing, it’s hard to believe it wasn’t already happening.
The ridesharing company has partnered with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) to continue improving its app. It also hopes to promote awareness of opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing and promote the importance of equal access to policymakers.
Uber has similar features to what Lyft announced today, though it’s all done via the Uber app instead of a hardware add-on in the car. When a new ride is available, Uber drivers will see a flash on their smartphone’s screen instead of just a sound, and passengers also get a notification about their driver’s status. Simple changes to existing hardware and software like this make everything much nicer for all of us, regardless of ability.