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To Rideshare Or Not To Rideshare

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 19/02/2016 Eric Lipp

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Rideshare car service has become so popular that it's slowly weaving its way into pop culture and even becoming a piece of Americana. So why do people with disabilities feel left out? It's pretty simple. Besides the normal customer service worries associated with using accessible transportation, these services lack supply of accessible vehicles. There is an answer but we must follow the systems structure to achieve full inclusion.
Here's how it currently works. Uber Technologies is a technology company that partners with people to drive their own private cars. Uber does not own or operate the vehicles and that is why there are very few accessible vehicles on their system. Uber has the same problem as every insurance company and every healthcare facility: high demand for accessible rides and too little supply. Because Uber is simply a technology company, they have limited control over who signs up to be an Uber Partner (Uber Partners are the same as Uber drivers but since they do not work directly for Uber they are called Partners). Therefore, it's up to regular people with accessible vehicles to sign up as Uber Partners.
Here is where the dilemma lies. How do we get Mom and Dad, who have an accessible vehicle for their child or loved one, to sign up their own accessible vehicle? How do we get all those people who are para and quadriplegics, who paid $35,000 or more for their accessible vehicle, to get on the rideshare rocket? How do we convince people who are deaf or hard of hearing to sign up and start serving the community while making a few extra bucks? If you understand the idea of rideshare companies, you will see that the ball might actually be in our court. Uber offers this great technology, which most able-bodied people (50 and younger) have tried, to people who want some supplemental income but they do not actually pay for the person's car. What they do offer is a ton of marketing, constant improvements to the software, and a phenomenal payment system. They make it easy for partners and convenient for riders. They have given us the tools to increase transportation options while creating part time jobs for those who desire. The disability community could benefit greatly but without signing up our own cars, we merely look like a group of people fighting a future technology that might be unstoppable. Some would say that the US government offers ride share companies just enough rope to hang themselves but what we, the disability community, actually need to do is take that rope and change the noose into a swing because if we don't make this work for ourselves I promise the regulators in US government, filled with able bodies, will make that choice for us.
Photo By Andrea Kennedy

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