Uber appointed ambassador for Singapore Association for the Deaf
Its number of deaf driver-partners has increased nine-fold
A year after it rolled out its Beethoven programme, Uber Singapore's number of deaf driver-partners is 10 times what it was before.
Today marks the first day of the International Week of the Deaf, and Uber's first day as a newly-appointed Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf) ambassador.
The ride-sharing company launched the Beethoven programme in several territories last year to give those who are deaf an equal opportunity at employment, with Singapore getting an official launch last September.
The programme introduced several deaf-friendly functions in the drivers' app, including flashing notifications and prompts to passengers about their driver and to enter their destination ahead of the ride.
These drivers' cars are fitted with small signs that teach riders basic sign language and gives them tips on interacting with the drivers.
Uber Singapore's head of operations Jonathan Wong told The New Paper the company conducts focus groups for the deaf driver-partner community to find out how they can improve the programme.
From 20 deaf driver-partners, the pool has grown to 200.
Mr Rosland Junid, 46, was introduced to Uber by his friends from the Singapore School for the Deaf.
The father of three has completed more than 4,000 trips since he started in August last year. Through an interpreter, Mr Junid told The New Paper: "I think Uber sends out a good message that deaf people can do whatever they want."
Mr Wong said: "We're very excited at the prospect of bringing more awareness to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
"We wanted to give everyone a chance to earn a living at the touch of a button."
Mr Roland Goh, 52, joined the Beethoven programme last year, after leaving his previous job as a delivery driver and chauffeur because there was "lots of bullying".
He showed off his long list of positive reviews from riders on his Uber app. He has a 4.89 out of five star rating on the app.
Mr Goh said: "Lots of people leave positive messages for us on the app."
Uber announced it will also be supporting SADeaf by gifting 12,000 Uber credits to the association for its interpreters to cover transport costs, and a further $10,000 to be disbursed to deaf passengers.
Ms Sylvia Teng, SADeaf Executive Director, said: "We look forward to working closely with Uber for public education in deaf culture and sign language to enable the public to communicate with the Deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers when they come across them."