On Monday, May 6th, 2019 loyal Lift user Christella Garcia and her service dog for the blind Priscilla have been turned down by Lift drivers at least 5 times in the last year alone. Most recently this past Monday. This story comes out of Sacramento, California by FOX40 News.
“She’s a woman’s best friend too!So I am totally blind and you can see I have my service animal, Priscilla, who just helps me to navigate and so she is kind of part of who I am. So I’ve tried to use Lyft specifically, I’ve been always Lyft loyal and I’ve had numerous incidents where I will call for a ride, I will be waiting for the ride and be left by drivers deliberately looking at me, literally seeing myself and the dog and leaving. Drivers have literally said that they won’t take myself and the dog and literally have said that they don’t care if they are violating the ADA, They don’t care if they lose their job, it doesn’t matter. So frustrating, so annoying, hurtful, all these emotions come up. “Lyft’s response is lukewarm at best. ‘Maybe we’ll compensate you for a couple of rides’ and ‘we’re always working to educate our drivers, Think about how you would feel if you had a disability, If you had a family member with a disability who was treated like this.” Christella told FOX40 in hopes to get the message out directly to the drivers in order to properly educate them.
It is against both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Lift’s own policies to refuse service to anyone with a service animal but Christella feels that nothing is really being done about this issue so she is speaking out publicly to make the public aware and maybe put a little pressure on Lift and its drivers.
FOX40 attempted to reach Lift for comment several times but have yet to receive a response.
Being blind myself I do know the frustration of being stranded somewhere unfamiliar by both Uber and Lift as well as local taxi services. It’s not like we don’t know they drive up, check us out, then take off when they see our guide dogs or service animals. The apps for these services tell us when they are close so we can be ready otherwise they may charge us for waiting around yet we are the ones that end up waiting around.
What is still not as well known as it should be is how trained these service animals are. They go through puppy raisers who train their basic skills then off to doggy boot camp for the harder tasks and finally training with the handler for sometimes as long as four weeks. So these are very safe, friendly, obedient, animals. Even when there seems to be an issue no matter how small, trainers will come out and work with the handler and service dog to try and correct whatever issue is going on.
In this day and age it just boggles my mind that the blind population still faces this type of discrimination. With all the special interest groups getting their way about things as small as how to properly address a gender, you would think these drivers would be terrified of refusing a ride to a blind person but nope. We remain waiting and who knows how long it will be until our ride comes… self driving cars. That will be for another article though.
Thanks to FOX40 for reporting on this issue that we the blind population have been facing since World War II. You can find the original article plus FOX40’s video on the subject here:
Blind woman says Lift drivers constantly turn her down when they see her service dog