Deaf and hard-of-hearing Kenyans are the first in Africa to benefit from a ground-breaking innovation that will help them earn an income as drivers. The development follows a collaboration between Uber, the innovative smartphone app that seamlessly connects riders to drivers, and the Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD).
Jambu Palaniappan, Regional General Manager for Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa, says the Association has helped Uber understand the challenges deaf and hard-of-hearing people overcome every day.
“As a result we’re introducing new features on the Uber app which are designed to make it easier for deaf and hard-of-hearing Kenyans to become partner-drivers and earn an income. The new settings we’re announcing today are a first step but we’re already thinking about how else we can help, through education and awareness, remove the barrier between deaf and hearing people in our cities,” says Palaniappan
It is estimated that up to 4 million Kenyans are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Many of them are economically disadvantaged with almost two-thirds currently unemployed. Uber’s new app update will enable them to become Uber partner-drivers and better provide for their families.
“Part of our mission is to promote public and private sector policies and initiatives that meet the rights and needs of the deaf community. This partnership, which will make it easier for deaf and hard of hearing people to work, is a welcome development,” says Nickson O. Kakiri, National Chairman of the Kenya National Association of the Deaf.
The new innovation follows Uber launching a cash payment option in Nairobi in May, following demand for this in the city. Such innovations have enabled Uber to pass the landmark of two million rides across Africa in the first six months of this year.
This represents a significant increase over the total of one million rides in Africa during the entire of 2014 and comes as Uber expanded across the continent from the initial launch cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban to start operating in Cairo, Lagos and Nairobi and most recently in Casablanca.