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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

9 Tips for Using Ride Sharing Apps if You Have Vision Loss

March 3, 2016 | 1 Comment

by David Flament, Manager of Adaptive Technology Services

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Uber app on an iPhone

Questions have been pouring in to Second Sense about ride sharing. The popularity in this new way of getting around has grown substantially since last winter’s article in Tech Times. I’d like to share more thoughts and some tips to help you get comfortable with a safe and affordable way to get to your destination.


1. What is Ride Sharing?

Uber and Lyft are ride-sharing apps for your smart phone. Think of ride sharing like using a private car service for less than the cost of a taxi.


2. How do I get started with ride sharing?

Both Uber and Lyft are VoiceOver friendly and work well with the iPhone. Before you can get a ride, you will need to set up an account including payment information. This is a fairly easy process for both apps.


3. Can I depend on the GPS for the correct pick-up address?

It is extremely important that your driver get the correct address to pick you up. The address supplied by GPS is often off by at least a couple of numbers. You should make sure you know how to set your pick-up location.

In both apps, double tapping the pickup address will allow you to change the address. Once the pickup location edit box comes up, I use the two finger double tap dictation command to dictate the correct pick-up address into the edit box. You do not need to enter your destination unless you want a fare estimate.


4. What does it cost?

The standard fare for Uber is slightly less expensive than for Lyft. Both companies have periods when standard fares are increased due to demand such as during morning and evening commutes or after sporting events. Uber calls it “Surge Pricing,” while Lyft calls it “Prime Time Pricing.” When booking a ride, be on the lookout for these fare increases. If the standard fare is being increased, a screen will come up when you request your ride letting you know how much the increased fare will be. You will need to confirm if you still want a ride.


5. How do I identify my ride?

I often call to let the driver know to look for the guy with the white cane. I also ask the driver to honk twice when they pull up so I know it is my ride.  You are given a phone number you can use to text or call the driver when you schedule a ride.


6. How do I pay for a ride?

Paying for your ride on both apps work pretty much the same way. After your ride, the app will tell you how much your fare was and ask you to rate your driver. The main difference between the two apps is that Lyft gives you the option to tip the driver before rating them. Uber does not offer a way to tip the driver.


7. What type of vehicle picks me up?

Uber has several different ride options to choose from while Lyft offers just two.

  • UberX is a standard car
  • UberXL is a bigger, SUV type vehicle
  • Uber Black is a professional driver in a black sedan or town car
  • Select/Lux is a higher quality car like a Cadillac, Mercedes or Tesla and is available in larger cities like Chicago
  • Uber Taxi is a local taxi also available in larger cities only

Lyft offers Standard and Plus. Plus is simply a larger vehicle similar to UberXL.


8. What if I don’t live in a big city?

Uber is available in many communities throughout the country and is the largest ride sharing platform in the U.S. and internationally. I’ve checked for rides in Waukegan, Illinois and Panama City Beach, Florida. Just start the app to see if there is an Uber or Lyft car near you and the app will tell you how long until the driver can reach you.


9. What about accessibility?

Finally, Uber offers UberAssist and UberAccess. These programs are ride options for those who need help getting into the vehicle or more space for a wheelchair or guide dog.


There has been some controversy regarding Uber and Lyft allowing guide dogs in their vehicles. For guide dog users who would like to use these ride-sharing apps, you may want to read a recent blog post by Mike May from Sendero Group about his experiences using Uber when traveling with his guide dog.


1 comment on “9 Tips for Using Ride Sharing Apps if You Have Vision Loss”

  1. I really hadn’t thought much about using ride-sharing apps before, but when I’m looking for a taxi on my next trip, I may change that. Transportation is one of those things that I don’t always plan super well for when I’m on business trips, and most of the time I remember too late to change anything. Maybe this time I’ll plan ahead a little more and see what my options are for larger groups. Maybe a taxi van or something like that. Thanks for sharing!

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