October 7, 2019

Uber

Uber: Blind and Visually Impaired Riders

The Challenge

Blind and visually impaired people face a substantial transportation challenge. Ridesharing services like Uber are potentially transformative solutions, but Uber’s services don’t work very well for people with visual impairments.

The Approach

I designed a mixed-media study to holistically understand the transportation practices of blind and visually impaired people, as well as the specific pain points in their experiences with Uber.

Methods

I used traditional User Experience research methods, such as interviews and ride alongs in Ubers, public transportation, and paratransit. I also developed a co-creation method for making sound recordings of participants’ worlds, in order to understand how sound can be used as part of a transportation design.

Key Learnings

  • Uber’s app is fundamentally not designed with a blind user’s experience in mind. There are problems in accessibility coding and blind users do not have access to the full range of information and experiences as sighted riders.
  • Blind riders experience unique problems in the real world portion of the Uber experience, such as heightened difficulty locating their car and discrimination from drivers.

Impact

I created a prioritized set of recommendations to serve as the roadmap for future improvements to the blind and visually impaired user’s experience of Ubers app and services. These included easy fixes to items that were badly coded for screen readers, suggestions about how to provide necessary information to blind riders, and research topics about the discriminatory practices of drivers. Uber is in the process of implementing these recommendations.

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