16 July 2020
Making Your Taxi More Accessible To Disabled Passengers
For many disabled people across the world, taxis are an essential method of transportation. However, relatively few taxis out there are accessible to different needs such as wheelchairs, and disabled people may often have special exceptions on things that would usually be forbidden for most passengers. For these reasons, it’s important to stay up to date on how to make your taxi journeys more disability-friendly.
There are several laws taxi drivers must abide by when assisting disabled passengers
- It is illegal to discriminate against disabled passengers. Any drivers caught doing so can receive hefty fines
- Drivers cannot charge any extra, or start the meter, before helping to assist the passenger into the vehicle
- Drivers cannot refuse service dogs unless they have a medical exemption certificate showing they are allergic to dogs. Such certificates must be clearly displayed on their vehicles
- Any items used to hold wheelchairs must be safe to use, and will not pose any potential danger to the passenger
- Amid the coronavirus pandemic, disabled passengers are exempt from mandatory face mask laws
How to be more accessible if you have a wheelchair accessible vehicle
There are numerous ways to make your taxi more accessible to physically disabled passengers:
Don’t ignore requests from disabled passengers:
This may seem like an obvious option, but doing so will ensure they get fast service, and aren’t left on the side. Remember, only a small percentage of taxis across the country are wheelchair accessible.
Don’t make assumptions:
Just because a person can get out of a wheelchair doesn’t mean they don’t need assistance. Likewise, just because someone may not have anything on them at all doesn’t mean they’re faking, or that they don’t need any kind of assistance. If they have any special requirements, listen to the passenger.
Additionally, a passenger with slurred speech should not immediately be assumed to be drunk, as they may have a speech impediment that affects the way they communicate.
Ask directly what you can do to help:
For some, this will be the most important thing you could do for them.
How Can You Help Even If Your Vehicle Is Not Accessible
Look out for sunflower lanyards:
If you pick up someone and notice they’re wearing a green lanyard with sunflowers on it, this means they have a hidden disability.
Do not ask what their disability is:
If the passenger doesn’t disclose their disability to you, it is not within your rights to ask them directly what their disability is. Some passengers may not be comfortable with disclosing the name of it.
Keep music down:
For both autistic passengers and those with hearing impairments, as well as those with auditory processing disorders, they may find it difficult to hear you if there is loud music playing. If you need to speak to the passenger, or they’re speaking to you, keep the music at a low volume.
Similar to above, some may need extra clarity when you speak to them. Be clear with what you want to say. Try to avoid getting frustrated if your passenger needs you to repeat what you said to them.
Don’t make assumptions about “strange behaviours”:
A common issue that people with hidden disabilities face is being wrongly accused of something due to their actions. Some disabled people may perform actions that others would deem “suspicious” when anxious, even though it is not their intention. This can include stuttering, avoiding eye contact, giving short answers and not being clear when responding to others.
Small talk can be common when delivering passengers. However, some disabled people may not feel comfortable with talking to someone they do not know. Though this will vary from person to person, if they don’t seem to be comfortable when speaking, it may be best to go the rest of the journey in silence.