“It’s critical that people with disabilities have access to opportunities in the digital economy. Uber is opening doors for people with disabilities to earn a living with a completely flexible schedule.”
Tony Coelho, former U.S. congressman and primary sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Gabriel, an Austin resident and Uber partner, likes to dream big. He works full-time as a bookkeeper for a national student housing company, and like most Uber partners, he uses the platform when he needs or wants to make some extra cash. But unlike most partners, Gabriel has had to overcome some very serious mobility challenges of his own, ever since an accident left him without the use of his legs.
Gabriel drives a modified Cadillac Escalade with an electric lift that enables him to access the driver’s seat and store his wheelchair. He even had his car retrofitted so it is compatible for a rider in a wheelchair.
For Gabriel, being in his car gives him a sense of freedom. Beyond using Uber as a flexible earning opportunity, he feels that by giving people a safe ride home, he is making a meaningful contribution to his community.
Learn more about Gabriel’s experience in our interview with him.
Luigi, a Connecticut uberX partner hailing from Italy, first learned about Uber from his teenage son. Looking to make some extra income while managing his jewelry business, Luigi started driving with Uber half a year ago.
Remarkably, it was only four years ago that Luigi wasn’t able to drive at all. A skiing accident left him with no use of his legs and limited upper body mobility. After deciding he wanted to start driving again, Luigi opted for a modified vehicle equipped with the appropriate ramp and steering capabilities.
Now, Luigi drives with Uber on the weekends in Fairfield County, CT. He loves getting out of the house, exploring new neighborhoods, and meeting his passengers.
Learn more about Luigi’s experience on the platform.
Bob is a Vietnam veteran and Ohio native who moved recently with his wife to North Carolina to escape the chilly Midwest winters.
Like too many veterans with mobility restrictions, Bob struggled to find employment. When Bob first discovered Uber, he was excited to hear that he was able to drive on the platform with his modified vehicle. This July will mark one year since Bob has been on the platform. He drives almost every day, and on weekend nights. After moving to Charlotte, Bob didn’t have many connections to the community, but Uber has enabled him to get out and about and meet people in the Charlotte area.
In Bob’s own words, “Uber is a way for a lot of vets to get out — especially disabled vets — who are stuck at home trying to find something to do. It’s a good way to try to break down the barriers that are still left for people with disabilities.”
Learn more about Bob’s experience driving with Uber.
Opportunities for People with Disabilities
Bob, Luigi, and Gabriel have all been able to overcome the adversity faced by people with disabilities in the job marketplace. But there are still significant barriers to earning a stable income for most people with a disability — especially among those with limited mobility.
Unemployment rates for this community are astronomically high. Last month, unemployment for people with disabilities in the United States was twice as high as the unemployment rate for the nondisabled workforce. Just 17.4% of working-age wheelchair users have a job.
Ridesharing technology, coupled with the access provided by modified vehicles, presents a possibility to help change the status quo, which has failed to create gainful employment options for people with disabilities.
Gabriel, Luigi, and Bob are a testament to this change. The supplemental income and flexible schedules that are the hallmarks of the Uber platform are helping them do the things that matter most: Bob is building his network and community in a new home, Gabriel has the chance to play with his wheelchair rugby team, and Luigi is spending more time with his son. And instead of being limited by what makes them unique, all three are redefining mobility — for themselves and their communities.
Have a modified vehicle, or know someone who does?