Dan Williams of Visualise Training and Consultancy will be discussing his case against Uber tonight (Tuesday 12 May) at 8.40pm on Radio 4’s In Touch programme.
Well known to many in the profession, Dan is bringing a case against the multinational ride-hailing company as a result of more than 100 refusals to pick up him and his guide dog Zodiac. Uber is being prosecuted under disability discrimination legislation.
Dan, who is receiving support in his case from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Some people ask me why I keep using Uber, but this is a systemic issue that includes private hire taxi firms too and it needs to stop.”
Dan, who is gradually losing his sight due to retinitis pigmentosa, regularly uses public transport across the UK to carry out visual impairment awareness training for organisations and workplace assessments for employees with sight loss.
Over the past two years, he says he has regularly been refused pick-ups which has caused him to miss or be late for appointments and negatively impacted his business reputation as well as creating huge anxiety and additional mental health challenges.
Dan explained: “A regular scenario is that I book an Uber ride and on arrival, the driver either spots me and Zodiac and drives off or pulls up and refuses to allow us into their car. I always remain calm and professional and explain that it is illegal under UK law as a guide dog is classed as a mobility aid, just like a wheelchair. I then started to message drivers to inform them that I have a guide dog which resulted in cancellations and would often message two or three drivers before one would actually accept the job.”
Dan went on: “Having Zodiac has transformed my life over the past two years and he’s become my best friend, but at times like these I really start to wonder if I should hand him back to Guide Dogs and revert to using a white cane to avoid all the anxiety and inconvenience caused by Uber drivers.”
In the short clip here, Dan voices his frustrations.
He says he has decided to act as he “knows this happens to other blind and partially sighted people regularly and wants to make changes on their behalf to eradicate this discrimination”.
Specialist disability discrimination lawyer Chris Fry of Fry Law who is handling Dan’s case states: “I’m pleased that Dan has decided to pursue this case as I know of many people who are treated in the same way and just put up with it. I’m very hopeful that together, we can make a positive impact on the taxi sector as a whole that will benefit the two million people living with sight loss in the UK. We think that Uber hanging its drivers out to dry shows an abrogation of responsibility. They are the service provider and are therefore responsible for providing an Equality Act compliant service.”
In a recent case brought by guide dog owner Colin Perreira, 24, a driver was ordered to pay more than £1,700 in costs and banned from offering rides on Uber.
For those who don’t catch the In Touch programme tonight, it will be available shortly after broadcast via this link.
Dan will also be discussing the issue on Radio 4’s consumer affairs programme You and Yours at 12.20pm on Wednesday 13 May, which can be accessed here.