Uber is looking to make it easier for Australians with accessibility needs to use its popular ridesharing platform.
UberASSIST, a service that launches today, is an option that users can select if they need an UberX car that can accommodate folding wheelchairs, walkers and collapsible scooters.
What will the election mean to you?
Sign up to our free newsletter, including this weekend’s coverage of the election.
Drivers will also be given specific training on the safety requirements of people living with a disability in consultation with the Open Doors Organisation in the US and the Australian Network on Disability.
However, vehicles available on the UberASSIST service will not be fitted out with accessible ramps or lifts.
The launch of the new service follows Uber having to defend itself against a discrimination lawsuit in the US for allegedly breaching the Americans with Disabilities Act.
StartupSmart contacted Uber for comment, but was referred to a statement on the company’s blog.
“Uber is working hard to make it easier and more affordable for people to get around their city,” David Rohrsheim, general manager of Uber Australia and New Zealand, said.
“With uberASSIST, our driver-partners are helping to extend that convenience to those with different accessibility needs.”
Deputy chief executive of the Australian Network on Disability, Jason Barker, told StartupSmart Uber drivers will be given training and resources to make them more aware of the needs of people with a disability.
“It’s important that people recognise that both customers and employees have disability and it is a large market,” he says.
“Sometimes things need to be done differently in terms of customer service or employment programs or employment resources.”
Barker says there is a growing awareness among companies when it comes to implementing programs and policies for both staff and customers living with a disability.
“There’s a changing image of what someone with a disability is like and a realisation they are in the same profession and industries as everyone else,” he says.
“People with disabilities are your parents, friends, colleagues and customers. The companies that are part of our group are realising that and in different ways and to different extents working on programs to do better in this space.”