Did you know that since 6th April 2017 it has been illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users This new legislation, introduced by the UK government to increase inclusiveness, applies to vehicles that are designated as wheelchair accessible and means disabled users do not face discrimination or inflated fares when using this popular mode of transport.
Requirements for an accessible taxi
Defining a wheelchair accessible taxi as able to accommodate the needs of those with a disability is a rather broad requirement; after all there are many different types of disability.
An accessible taxi might come equipped with a ramp to serve those who are mildly disabled when it comes to walking, i.e. the elderly or alternatively those who are using wheelchairs.
Once inside the taxi it should have safety straps to secure a wheelchair and if the person who is currently using the taxi has trouble moving around, a swivelled out chair should be provided to increase the individual's mobility within the vehicle. Accessible taxis are also adding different forms of lighting to help the visually impaired.
Using Assistant Dogs in your commute
If you have an assistance dog he/she is entitled to travel alongside you in the taxi except in the case where the driver has an exemption certificate. This allows them to refuse to carry animals on the grounds of medical conditions, for example allergies, which impair their driving ability.
All accompanying assistance dogs should be trained by legal dog training organisations such as the Guide Dogs Organisation, Canine Partners, and Dogs For the Disabled among others. When travelling with your canine companion, it is important to carry an appropriate form of identification to certify that your dog has been trained and that he/she helps you move around or interact with the world more effectively. It is important to ensure your dog remains calm and quiet, since damage incurred as a result of the dog will have to be compensated by you as the dog’s owner.
The exemption certificate that is used by taxi drivers to excuse them from transporting persons with animals is usually presented in form of a yellow stickerplaced on the car’s windscreen. If the certificate is missing, then the taxi driver may be considered as discriminating against people who are disabled or who have special needs.
Hearing aid induction loops are now standard fittings on taxis to assist passengers who have hearing impairments. These allow for people who might be deaf or nearly deaf to communicate quite efficiently and with less hassle.
New laws and fines regarding accessible transport
With the new law being passed on 6th April 2017 taxi drivers could face a fine of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport a disabled user, or if they attempt to charge them more than the standard fare prices.
Due to this law, taxi and private hire vehicle drivers will now be obliged to transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair, provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance, charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users, and show no discrimination against an individual with a disability. They also have a responsibility to report problems on discrimination issues.
All taxi and minicab drivers must make sure they do not discriminate against disabled people and should therefore not treat them less favourably than non-disabled customers. They should also make any ‘reasonable adjustments’ to their service for them to make their journey easier. They should report any problems to the taxi licensing office at their local council office.
Booking an accessible taxi
Hailing a taxi that is more suitable for a disabled person is very easy in urban areas. However, in less urban areas, adapted taxis for disabled people are a little less common. We have included a resource of various taxi companies throughout the UK who specifically cater for the needs of disabled people, although these are certainly not the only suitable cab services that provide disabled access.
Companies Offering Accessible Taxi Services Within the UK
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