Radio news

New initiative to support travelling with assistance animals

26 October 2021

A world-first initiative by rideshare company Uber will allow passengers who travel with assistance animals such as Seeing Eye Dogs supported to travel without discrimination.

Uber and Vision Australia Radio logos

The Service Assistance Program (SAP) has just launched and is designed to assist those that travel with assistance animals by pairing them with educated drivers who understand the needs of those with assistance animals. Vision Australia manager of government relations Chris Edwards said....

Vision Australia has been working closely with Uber on the detail of the initiative and commends the rideshare giant on genuinely understanding the issue and putting a strategic solution in place to address it.

“Unfortunately, people travelling with dog guides, including myself, still experience discrimination and are turned away by drivers and taxis. This is despite it being illegal for drivers to refuse people on the basis of travelling with an assistance animal,” Chris said.

“I really like the business approach Uber took to solving this systemic issue. Vision Australia and Uber worked together on some of the specifics of the issue, and we supported them through the solution to make sure it wasn’t creating other issues for users who are blind or have low vision.”

The Service Assistance Program has three major pillars:

  • A dedicated phone support program for participants that will connect them with specially trained agents, ensuring any potential issues are solved quickly and appropriately.
  • A notification sent to drivers after accepting a job with someone travelling with an assistance animal, reminding them of their legal obligations. Should the driver refuse the trip after receiving this notification, a review will take place.
  • Once signed up to the program, participants can more easily have their cancelled trips reviewed to make sure no breaches of the law have taken place.

More information about the program, including how to sign up, can be found here (external link).

Vision Australia Radio thanks the support of station sponsor Uber in making the user experience safer and easier for our listeners and community.

We are also grateful for their recent support of our White Cane Day celebrations in which they were our broadcast partner. You can hear the program via podcast here and below.