Uber Manila yesterday launched a program that fully supports the giving of income generating opportunities to Pinoys with disabilities. Uber Manila’s program already includes certain partner-drivers who claim to be hard of hearing but not totally deaf. These drivers spoke to the media of the benefits of the income they have made from being a partner-driver using their own vehicles. Uber clearly identifies which drivers are disabled by showing a PWD icon on their profiles and it will be the choice of the passenger to ride with them or not.
Yes it’s a good move, but…
In 2009, the World Federation of the Deaf made a statement on the right of deaf to drive a car or any other vehicle.
We at PWDPhil.com support this statement and that Pinoys with Disabilities should be given the right to drive a motor vehicle. While there have been no studies proving that deaf drivers are more prone to accidents than normal-hearing drivers, it has been well-established in many studies that sound is not a primary consideration when driving a motor vehicle. The most crucial sense to driving is the sense of sight and the sense of touch. While hearing can be complimentary, it is not as crucial as sight. That is why we can still drive safely even while the radio is at high volume. We also believe that many of our disabled brothers and sisters are already marginalized as it is and giving them opportunities for mobility would be more than welcome.
How is Uber Manila ready for the PWD partner-driver?
However, PWDs have rights too. Such as the VAT exemption, exemption from coding, premium and reserved parking space near ramps and building entrances and tax relief. How Uber Manila intends to address these issues and ensure that the deaf drivers are given their due, CEO Laurence Cua did not say. Yes, they have technologies that will assist the driver such as the Beethoven technology where calling is automatically disabled if you are trying to contact a PWD driver. There is also the question of protection for the PWD driver as many PWDs are subject to ridicule and humiliation. Uber Manila also made no mention of how they can protect their PWD partner-drivers during these instances. They did mention the need to educate riders on discriminating against a PWD driver, but there is also the rider’s right to choose, and that may be misconstrued as discrimination. In my opinion, educating the public about the safety of riding with deaf drivers should have been done prior to the launching of this program to increase its acceptance by the public. Pushing something like this to the consumer without a prior education campaign may become the source of several issues. Though many Uber PWD drivers are lauded and given high ratings for their safe driving style, courtesy and good service, it will not save the deaf drivers from undereducated and abusive riders. Training the deaf drivers on how to handle such situations should be in place as well.
Is the program legal in the Philippines?
And there is the question of legality. In Europe and in the US, deaf drivers are allowed to drive commercial vehicles, such as buses, cabs and cargo trucks. While deaf drivers are given licenses to drive in the Philippines, a check with the Land Transportation Office confirmed that deaf drivers here are only given a Non-Professional driver’s license with the restriction code clearly mentioning which type of vehicle the deaf driver is allowed to drive and under which condition the deaf driver is licensed. The Land Transportation Office customer hotline mentioned that there is condition E which means the deaf driver is allowed to drive but only when accompanied by a person of normal hearing. Discrimination? Maybe, maybe not, but it is the law. Deaf drivers are NOT given Professional Driver’s Licenses.
So if the deaf driver’s main line of work is driving for pay, there could be a legal issue with this program by Uber Manila, because deaf drivers, by law, are not allowed to drive commercially.
What do you think?