Deaf driver uses technology to adopt new career

Often it seems as if every couple of weeks I write an article about how technology is serving as a tool to advance the lives of people with disabilities. Additional uses of technology are being discovered every day.

One man, Yuriy Grinman, is using tech to enable his new career as a driver for hire. In his fifties, and originally from the Ukraine, Grinman states that growing up in Ukraine as a deaf man meant he only had three options for college majors: gym teacher, dental technician, and tailor. He began a career as a dental technician, which he continued following his 1993 immigration to the United States of America. Then, Grinman became aware of the fact that he is legally qualified to drive for both of the popular car taxi services, Uber and Lyft. This realization lead to Grinman’s exploration of a new career as a driver for both companies.

Grinman’s job is made exponentially easier by the fact that the majority of client-driver interaction can take place through the company phone applications – the client calls the car, inputs their location, can detail their destination, pay, and tip all through the app. According to Narratively, the online storytelling platform who conducted the interview with Grinman available below, since beginning his new job Grinman has served 2,000 clients, working an weekly total of fifty or sixty hours. Grinman is not unique; Uber, object of discrimination claims by riders with disabilities nationwide, estimates that there are about forty deaf Uber drivers across the country.

Some might question how safe it is to ride with a deaf driver. In answer to this query, Howard Rosenblum of the National Association of the Deaf, says, “Deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers are just as safe, if not safer than drivers who can hear. There is nothing about driving that relies on hearing to make the experience safer.” Alix Anfang, an Uber communications associate, says that “Uber is proud that the app is being used by deaf and hard-of-hearing driver-partners to earn a living. We have worked closely with members of the community to add features to make the app as seamless as possible and we are constantly exploring new ways to make it even better.” Narratively also states, “Uber and Lyft have the same policies for hiring or signing up drivers, regardless of if they are deaf or not. If their vehicle passes inspection and meets other criteria, deaf drivers can sign up for both services, and their insurance is even the same as hearing drivers.”

Check out the video below to learn more about Grinman’s experiences as an Uber driver.

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of Rooted in Rights.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.