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How can we turn an everyday occurence — like saying hello — into a moment of connection between passengers and deaf drivers?

ASL sign for letter Y

Reinventing Hello

According to the Communication Service for the Deaf, the rate of underemployment in the deaf community is 70%. Many deaf or hearing impaired people are finding work in the gig economy, but for those choosing to drive for ride-sharing services, the challenges of communication with riders can be a daunting obstacle while trying to make a living.

Uber wanted to support its hearing impaired community by making communication easier between riders and deaf drivers. To do this, they asked us to bridge the language gap between American Sign Language and spoken english.

We interviewed deaf drivers to identify the key friction points during a ride:identification of the rider, and providing directions while en route. We learned that many riders had been paired with deaf drivers, but were embarrassed they were unable to sign their name, or even say “thank you.”

“The most critical opportunity is when the rider confirms their name for pick-up with the driver. We designed the experience to not only make that work, but to encourage a moment of connection.”

- Greg Dodds, Director of Brand Innovation, LFL
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Tone It Up - Notification 245 babes that completed the class with you

“The most critical opportunity is when the rider confirms their name for pick-up with the driver. We designed the experience to not only make that work, but to encourage a moment of connection.”

- Greg Dodds, Director of Brand Innovation, LFL

ASL sign for letter F

Driving Engagement

Our solution was ubersignlanguage.com—a micro-course in American Sign Language (ASL) connected to the Uber app. Whenever a rider is paired with a deaf driver, they receive a notification within the Uber app which invites them to learn some basic ASL to use during their journey.

Beginning with signing their own name, riders learn essential phrases like “hello,” “turn left,” and “thank you.” While these gestures are simple, we found they make a huge difference in breaking down a barrier of fear in communication, creating a more friendly and comfortable journey.

“We hope this tool will help start a conversation between our riders and our Deaf and hard of hearing partners.

- Uber

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