Deaf Uber Driver Works to Dispel Stigma

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An Uber driver who is hard of hearing is working hard to dispel discomfort surrounding his ability to transport passengers.

Francisco Garces, an Uber driver of two years, is one of the thousands of U.S. drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing. He lost his ability to hear when he was a child in Colombia.

It is legal for deaf people to drive as long as they get a driving license as anyone else would. To make the experience less daunting for all, Uber connects riders who are being transported by deaf drivers with a website where they can access basic sign language skills.

Uber is putting effort to support drivers like Garces. Uber is using technology to open the doors of employment to deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers

“Unfortunately it’s very hard for them to get work. If you look at the unemployment rate the underemployment rate for those folks is around 70 percent,” Kasra Moshkani, general manager of Uber in Florida, said.

However, much has changed with the website Uber rolled out in September that helps riders communicate with their drivers.

“You can go to the website and learn how to say ‘hello.’ You can learn how to say ‘thank you.’ You can learn how to say ‘left turn,’ ‘right turn’ or ‘hello. my name is.'”

Garces is not letting anything get in his way.

“A lot of deaf people can drive. They can drive. They have no problem with that,” Garces said. “A lot of my friends in another country they say you can’t drive. And I’m like, ‘yes, you can drive’. Deaf people can drive with their hands, you know, they brake – all that, yes you can drive.”

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