When we hear tech people in Silicon Valley talk about their missions, it is always with the goal to make life better. It is the foundation of new technological invention. For many around the globe, technology has greatly improved their lives.
For those who experience hearing loss, significant advancements in technology have improved their ability to hear. With hearing loss, it may be difficult to find a job. However, Uber has made strides in this area. News from Singapore reports that hearing-impaired people are empowered to drive for a living with this popular smartphone app.
How Does Uber Work?
If you don’t own a car but need a ride, Uber is the app you want. Uber is simple to use: you download the app, enter the required information, and hail a ride from wherever you are! Uber uses GPS to identify your location. When in need of a ride, you type in the arrival location and Uber finds an available driver for you.
According to WIRED Magazine, Uber is available in 400 cities in 65 countries. Uber’s mission is to be “grounded, populist, inspiring, highly evolved, and elevated.” Uber has offered people the opportunity for a job, as well. If you can drive, pass their background check, and own a vehicle, then you can drive Uber. Around the globe, there are Uber drivers who make their entire month’s salary through this app.
Uber’s innovation has inspired people around the globe, especially with the groundbreaking Project Beethoven in Singapore. Named for the famed classical composer who created works of genius despite his hearing loss, Project Beethoven was launched in September 2016 to help hearing-impaired people find work as drivers.
Through Project Beethoven, passengers are prompted to text their drivers, rather than call them. Drivers receive requests through flashing lights on their app. Because Uber requires passengers to type in their destination in order to request a ride, the communication channels are clear between driver and passenger.
Mr. Warren Tseng, the general manager of Uber Singapore, says, “We ensure a safe experience by forcing the drivers to enter the destination before every trip. This way, the driver knows exactly where to go, because the GPS through the phone directs the driver to the destination.”
Hearing-impaired drivers are subject to certain requirements in order to qualify as an Uber driver: they must possess a valid driver’s license and also hearing abilities at 50 decibels (the sound of a conversation at home).
The innovations of Project Beethoven “will greatly help drivers who are hearing-impaired to serve their customers. A simple prompt to inform the passenger about the driver will help improve comfort levels and avoid misunderstandings.”
Currently, Project Beethoven has recruited 20 drivers in Singapore, as of September 2016, and plans to recruit more in coming months.
Working with Hearing Loss
Uber and Project Beethoven are inspiring for those of us who experience hearing loss.
Hearing loss, when treated, does not stand in the way of someone’s ability to make a living. Studies have found that people who treat hearing loss with hearing aids do not differ in earnings and productivity than their normal-hearing colleagues. Those with untreated hearing loss, however, have been found to struggle with communication and productivity, and tend to have lower earning power.