Uber calls for a change in NZ restrictions on deaf drivers


CDL and hearing impairment
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The transport network company Uber, which connects drivers and users via smart phones, has called on the New Zealand Transport Agency to revise its rules on restricting deaf and hearing impaired people from driving taxis.

The company recently released an app with additional features designed to help drivers with hearing impairments. In an article published by Business Day, Uber spokeswoman Katie Curran said that these new features were making a huge difference to the deaf and hard of hearing community in other markets where the system has been implemented, specifically Australia and the United States. Some of the new features for hearing-impaired drivers include flashing notifications, the ability to text drivers rather than call, extra prompts for customers to enter their destination ahead of their trip, and letting them know their driver has a hearing impairment.

The problem is that the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has certain rules in place that restrict people with hearing impairments from obtaining the license needed to drive passengers in a taxi, bus or shuttle. “We don’t believe this should be the case as these standards and their current interpretation have not kept pace with advances in technology,” Curran said.

The NZTA requires that candidate drivers pass a hearing test in their better ear or apply for exemption if evidence is provided that the driver will use a method of two-way communication that would not impair their ability to drive safely. To obtain the standard license, applicants are required to have a threshold greater than 40 dB or pass a “3-meter” hearing test, whereby a person can hear each word spoken in a normal conversational voice at a distance of three meters.

Source: Business Day NZ