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Uber’s Latest Partnership Will Help It Hire More Deaf Drivers

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An Uber vehicle is viewed in Manhattan on July 20, 2015 in New York City. Photograph by Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Ride-hailing service Uber is partnering with the Communication Service for the Deaf to recruit more deaf drivers and continue to develop more resources for those drivers, the company said on Tuesday.

As part of the partnership with the CSD, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources deaf people, Uber will help host sign-up events for drivers, and roll out online support and driver sign-up resources in American Sign Language.

Uber has had deaf drivers for quite some time. Last year, rolled out a few features in its apps to make it easier for them, but the company says that its partnership with the CSD is a further push into recruiting deaf drivers. Today, 70% of deaf or hard of hearing people are unemployed or underemployed, according to figures shared by the two organizations.

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Uber declined to share specific hiring goals, though Uber’s vice president of strategic initiatives David Richter noted the company hopes to it will be within the “thousands” in the next year.

“The goal is simply to have a tremendous number of deaf driver partners earning a living on the platform,” said Richter. The two organizations plan to host driver recruiting-focused events within the coming months, starting with one in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

To date, deaf Uber drivers have earned more than $10 million in earnings through the service, according to the company.

Last spring, Uber implemented a few features into its mobile apps to help both deaf drivers and their passengers, including a flashing light to signal a ride request instead of an audio notification, text-only communication between the rider and driver, and a pop-up notification for the rider to let them know the driver is deaf. Uber designed those features based on customer and driver feedback as well as through working with the National Association of the Deaf.

“While we could try to come up with this from scratch, we looked at folks who have been doing this for a while,” explained Richter. The CSD will also provide American Sign Language-based customer support for Uber’s deaf drivers and prospective drivers.