In July, the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) offered tips to drivers assisting passengers with a variety of common disabilities. The Black Car Assistance Corp. shared the advice with its members, encouraging them to make the information available to their drivers. Please heed the following advice and offer every passenger the respect they deserve.

Tips for providing service to passengers with speech disabilities

  • Introduce yourself. For example, you might say, “Hello, my name is… I will be driving you today.”
  • Talk to your passenger like you would talk to anyone else.
  • Treat adults like adults.
  • Be patient, as it may take your passenger a while to answer.
  • Speak in a regular tone of voice.
  • If you are having trouble understanding what your passenger is saying, ask them to repeat or have them write it down. Consider keeping a note pad in your vehicle. Asking questions with “yes” or “no” answers also may help.

Tips for assisting deaf and hard of hearing passengers

  • Before you speak to your passenger, make sure you have their attention.
  • Avoid chewing gum and blocking your mouth when speaking to your passenger. If you are able, face them directly when you are stopped at red lights to communicate with them. If you are wearing a mask and feel comfortable, kindly move the mask down before speaking or use clear masks.
  • When driving at night or if it is dark inside the vehicle, turn on the dome light before speaking to the passenger.
  • Politely introduce yourself and include your name. You might consider having a printed blurb ready, with your name and introduction.
  • Display the address/location of the drop-off and have the passenger confirm.
  • Ask the person how they like to communicate.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with an induction loop system, inform the passenger, and ask if they would like you to use it. If so, be sure to always speak into the microphone.
  • Some passengers may have an interpreter with them. Talk directly to your passenger who is deaf or hard of hearing and not their interpreter.
  • Do not raise your voice unless your passenger asks you to. Speak in a normal volume. Do not shout.
  • If you are having trouble understanding what your passenger is saying, ask them to repeat or have them write it down. Keeping a note pad in your vehicle can help with this.

Tips for providing service to low-vision or blind passengers

  • Start by introducing yourself, perhaps with, “Hello, my name is… I will be driving you today.”
  • Ask if the passenger needs assistance.
  • If the passenger requests to be guided, offer your arm. Never grab the person unless they specifically ask you to do so.
  • Do not grab or move the passenger’s cane.
  • Do not interact in any way with the passenger’s guide dog as it is “working.” Note: A service animal is one that helps a person with a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or developmental disability. A service animal does NOT need to wear a tag, be registered, or have any identification to prove it is a service animal. You may not ask the passenger for documentation for their service animal. If you’re unsure if it’s a service animal, you may ask: (1) Is the animal required because of a disability? And, (2) What work or task has the animal been trained to do? You may not ask the passenger to demonstrate the task.
  • When dropping off a passenger that is blind or low vision, provide information about the location that is as detailed as possible. For example, let them know which side of the car is safe to exit and cross streets.
  • Upon a passenger’s request, the driver must assist with completing payment – like helping them access a credit card reader or counting cash aloud.
  • Tell the passenger how much the trip fare is and how much change you are returning to them if cash was given.

Tips for providing service to passengers who have physical or ambulatory disabilities

  • Start with a polite introduction that includes your name.
  • Always ask before offering help. Do not assume your passenger needs or wants it.
  • If a passenger describes how they would like to be helped, do so in that specific way.
  • Do not touch a person’s mobility device unless specifically asked to do so. People who use canes or crutches need their arms to balance themselves, so make sure to ask them if you should hold onto their arm or not.
  • If your passenger is using a wheelchair, be sure to properly use all four floor securements, the lap belt and shoulder belt.
  • If you are driving a sedan, you cannot refuse passengers that use wheelchairs. Some passengers are able to transfer themselves to the vehicle with some assistance. You must stop for all passengers using wheelchairs.
  • Be aware of a person’s reach limits or use of their hands. They may need help paying with a credit card or cash.
  • When dropping off a passenger who uses a mobility device, be sure that you are near a curb cut or service ramp. If this is not possible, offer to assist them onto the curb so that the passenger isn’t rolling/ambulating in traffic.
  • Do not interact in any way with the passenger’s guide dog as it is “working.”

Tips for assisting passengers with intellectual and developmental disabilities

  • A polite introduction that includes your name is always a good way to start.
  • Treat adults like adults.
  • People with brain injuries may have short-term memory issues and can repeat themselves. You may need to repeat information to your passenger.
  • People with perceptual or “sensory overload” problems may become confused by too much information at once. You may have to provide them with the necessary information slowly.
  • Ask your passenger to repeat themselves if you do not understand them.
  • Provide information verbally if your passenger has difficulty reading.
  • Do not interact in any way with the passenger’s guide dog as it is “working.”

For more information, email

Sources: NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission, BCAC

Article by Black Car News

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