Uber Fails to Serve People With Disabilities, DC Advocate Says

A woman who has sued Uber because she says the company fails to serve people with disabilities says an incident in the D.C. area last week demonstrates why the company needs to change.

Kelley Simoneaux said she was denied a ride by an Uber driver after leaving a restaurant in Arlington on Wednesday because she uses a wheelchair.

Heidi Case of D.C., who is part of a lawsuit filed last year, said Monday that the ride-hailing company has a responsibility to accommodate all riders under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in areas such as transportation and public accommodations.

Case uses a wheelchair and said that without services like Uber, people with disabilities must rely on Metro, or plan their transportation far in advance. That means they could miss out on spontaneous activities because they can’t get there.

“If you can't get in and around and to where community is happening, you really can’t be a part of it,” she said.

The Uber app has an option for users to request wheelchair-accessible rides. But Case says the app usually just tells her the only wheelchair-accessible option nearby is a taxi.

She could use a taxi to get where she is going, but they are not as timely or as cheap as Uber rides, she said.

“If able to use Uber, I could think about life — What do I want to do today? Do I want to go to a restaurant just like other people do?” she said.

Getting that opportunity to get out is why she joined the lawsuit, she said. The lawsuit Case is part of was filed by nonprofit Equal Rights Center.

Uber said in a statement that they would continue to work with its partners in the D.C. region and beyond to expand transportation options for all residents.

“We have a clear non-discrimination policy that includes serving riders with disabilities,” the statement said.

Uber said it has been piloting a program in D.C. called UberWAV, for wheelchair-accessible vehicles. When tried Monday, no cars were available.

Case said she hopes the lawsuit will create more opportunities for people with disabilities to live normal lives.

“Without them, we are stuck here alone,” she said. “It has the potential to be the greatest asset for people with disabilities.”

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