Can deaf people qualify to be taxi drivers or Uber drivers in Quebec?
Deaf people can not currently obtain the Class 4C license required of taxi drivers and as part of the Uber pilot project in Quebec, as Metro reported a few weeks ago. A medical test analyzing their hearing for this license disqualifies them. The Quebec Automobile Insurance Corporation (SAAQ) states that drivers must be able to communicate quickly and be able to hear a whisper if an emergency occurs. Métro asked whether deaf people can contact emergency services and manage a distress situation.
Metro met three Uber drivers who can no longer drive on the application because of their deafness. Prior to the pilot project, Uber required only the Class 5 license, which most individuals own – including deaf people. For them, the requirement to obtain the 4C license is not realistic, and they argue that deaf people now have several means to manage an emergency.
“The technology makes it possible to provide access to the deaf in any field, especially for taxi drivers,” said Benoît Landry, one of the fifty deaf drivers who drove on the Uber platform until the entrance Of the pilot project. [The government established these criteria several years ago when technology was not part of our lives. ”
To illustrate this, his colleague Louis Desbiens, who is also a deaf driver, opens his mobile phone in the Montreal Metropolitan Center (MMSC) Center where Metro met with them. For nearly a year, deaf people have access to a service, which allows them to communicate with 9-1-1 via text message 24 hours a day and is offered by the major mobile phone companies.
“We sign up for service, and when we call 9-1-1, if they do not hear anything on the line, there’s a central station that connects us by text message. You can ask for a policeman, a fireman, an ambulance … “, explains Mr.Desbiens.
The driver tested him in front of Métro and was able to initiate a text conversation with the emergency services (see photo). On the other hand, a delay could be observed because, for the good of the meeting, the interpreter continued the discussion in the room where we were.
A “video relay” service, which is offered since the beginning of September, also allows the deaf to contact 9-1-1 via video, and an interpreter makes the translation directly. The service is currently offered from 9 am to 9 pm, but could be offered over a longer period if the need arises, says the drivers. “I’ve used it five times,” says Benoit Landry. There was someone bloody in the street, he was all alone. I called 9-1-1 and the ambulance came, so it works very well. ”
Drivers want the SAAQ to consider these new options and engage in a conversation with them to assess opportunities and see if they can qualify for the 4C license. “They made a decision and kept it without consulting us to consider what could be done,” says Gilles Read, director of the CCSMM. We live every day with deafness, so we know about accessibility services, we find solutions to our everyday problems. ”
All argue that deaf people have developed not only greater visual ability to help them detect hazards on the road, but also to understand people’s expressions through gestures. “We see when the person is not doing well. We call 9-1-1 right away. We have always spent our lives adapting. It is as if the SAAQ thinks that we will not be able to cope and that we are just going to be an observer without doing anything, “explains Patrick Lazure, also driver Uber until the pilot project came into effect.
The drivers indicate that customers can always communicate with them with a paper and a pencil that they make available to them or via their mobile phone. Drivers can read their message at a traffic light or park.
“Radio distribution will soon be over. The arrival of applications like Uber, Teo or Taxi Diamond allows deaf drivers to continue working. It is time to work on solutions, “concluded Benoît Landry.
Taxi drivers and Uber deaf drivers can work legally in Toronto and Ottawa.
In Toronto, municipal regulations only specify that the driver must speak English, but communication in English by text message is permitted. The City of Toronto Police Department confirms that deaf people can contact 9-1-1 via electronic devices for the deaf.
In Ottawa, there is nothing in the regulations that prevents deaf people from being a taxi driver. However, taxi companies can impose their own requirements on drivers. Deaf drivers may have access to a specialized vehicle equipped with an emergency button, although this is not mandatory.