“Companies like Lyft are empowering blind people to live the lives we want by providing fast, convenient and affordable transportation,” National Federation of the Blind President Mark A. Riccobono said in a statement. “This empowerment can only be real and complete, however, if all blind people, including those who use guide dogs, are able to access the service when and where they need it, without fear that they will be refused service.”
Lyft said in a blog post that it would work with the federation’s technology staff to make its app more accessible to blind customers. The ride-hailing company also promised to work with policymakers about transportation access and educate Lyft drivers about how to offer welcoming and inclusive rides for blind passengers.
According to the National Federation of the Blind, some of that work will focus on making sure drivers are welcoming of guide dogs.
“My wife Melissa uses a guide dog, and consequently our family has occasionally experienced the refusal of transportation services, which violates the legal and civil rights of the blind and people with disabilities,” Riccobono said. “The National Federation of the Blind applauds Lyft’s commitment to improve its service to guide dog users, and we look forward to working with Lyft to ensure that its efforts to do so are meaningful and effective.”
Uber and Lyft have both put more resources toward accessibility over the past year. Both companies have pursued non-emergency medical transportation and transportation options for senior citizens. Uber in 2015 added features to make its service more accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing passengers. Uber also offers some features for blind and low-vision passengers, including voice technology.
“We have heard from many passengers with disabilities, including those who are blind or who have low vision, about how Lyft has transformed their lives,” Lyft Director of Public Policy Annabel Chang said in a statement. “This partnership will help us continue to improve our services to better serve the blind and low vision community.”