Safety Tips for Using Ridesharing Services for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
April 5, 2019
The tragic death of the South Carolina student who mistook a car for an Uber has once again raised the concern of safety while using ridesharing services. In recent days, many friends and family members have asked me how people who are blind stay safe when using this form of transportation. Undoubtedly, the South Carolina incident has also made me think more about my safety while using ridesharing services. I have used Uber and Lyft for several years, and these services have dramatically changed the way people who are blind or visually impaired get around. The following are some important safety tips and suggestions that I have learned, which I am pleased to share:
• If I am with a friend or family member when waiting for an Uber, I always ask them to make sure the car model and license plates match the ones shown on my app. To learn more about how people who are blind use the Uber app, you can read this post I wrote a few years ago.
• In the instances when I am by myself and I see on the app that my Uber has arrived, I first call the driver to make contact with them. That way I will know exactly where they are. I never tell them my name and let them say it instead.
• Another method I have found useful is my Aira app and smart glasses. This technology connects me with a trained individual who is sighted and can see my surroundings through the camera on my phone or smart glasses. He or she can request the Uber or Lyft for me and track its location. I always ask them to stay on the line with me until they see I have gotten into the right car.
• Thanks to my iPhone, I can track my location on a GPS map. I have found this to be useful while taking an Uber because I can follow the route while the ride is in progress to make sure I am headed in the right direction. This gives me an added measure of safety and comfort.
Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft have revolutionized the way many of us get around, and I believe they are especially useful to people who are blind or visually impaired. As individuals with visual impairments, however, we can be more vulnerable. For this reason, it is critical for us to take extra safety measures. In fact, many of the suggestions and tips I shared are essential for everyone’s safety while using ridesharing services, no matter if you are blind or sighted.
What other safety tips do you have for rideshare passengers who are blind or visually impaired? I invite you to leave your comment on this post, or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandy Murillo works at The Chicago Lighthouse, an organization serving the blind and visually impaired. She is the author of Sandy’s View, a bi-weekly Lighthouse blog about blindness and low vision. The blog covers topics of interest to those living with blindness and vision impairments. Being a blind journalist and blogger herself, Sandy shares her unique perspective about ways to live and cope with vision loss.