Calling all cabs
Say you need to get to work and your car’s in the shop. You call a cab and wait by the side of the curb. The cab pulls up but as soon as the driver sees you, he speeds away. You end up late for work, if you can get there at all.
Or maybe it’s a doctor’s appointment: you’ve waited a month to see a specialist and when you call a cab the driver never shows. You miss your appointment.
Or how about the time you had to walk two hours to get home with a heavy bag of groceries because the cab driver refused to let you in the car. Has this ever happened to you?
Well, it’s happened to me and hundreds of others all over the country. I’m blind and I use a guide dog. And although my dog is groomed every day and has been specifically trained to ride quietly on the floor of a taxicab, it doesn’t seem to matter much to some cab drivers. I don’t have the option of driving myself. I really need a taxi sometimes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the majority of cab drivers are responsible. They’re prompt and courteous and understand the meaning of customer service. They are sensitive to the needs of people who are disabled. And they know the law.
It’s too bad that the rotten apples in the bunch are causing trouble for everyone else. Don’t they realize that the Americans with Disabilities Act permits access for guide and service animals in all public places? (A guide or service animal is one that’s been specifically trained to assist with a person’s disability.)
Are they aware that cab drivers, their parent companies and even companies that subcontract to them have been sued for damages? Do they realize they could bring negative publicity to their business? Drivers have lost their licenses in some of these cases.
I’m calling on all cab drivers and companies to help out. There’s an excellent 12-minute taxi training video called “Taxi, Please” put out by Assist BC. They can be reached at (250) 598-8432. Guide Dogs for the Blind also has an FAQ for businesses regarding access and other pertinent information at www.guidedogs.com under “Access and Etiquette.”
There are 50 blind or visually impaired graduates of my guide dog school in Sacramento County, and many from other schools as well. While we may be a minority, that’s no reason to give us shoddy service. We deserve better.