On April 3, 2017 Lyft and the National Federation of the Blind announced a collaborative effort to ensure reliable and equal service to individuals who are blind and use service animals.
Michael Bien, Gay C. Grunfeld and Michael Nunez of RBGG represent National Federation of the Blind (NFB), Lucy Greco and Lynda Johnson in this matter, along with co-counsel Mary-Lee K. Smith and Julia Marks of Disability Rights Advocates, and Timothy Elder of the TRE Legal Practice. Full press release set out below.
Lyft and the National Federation of the Blind Announce Comprehensive Accessibility Improvements for Lyft Riders Who Travel with Service Animals
April 3, 2017 – Lyft and the National Federation of the Blind today announced a collaborative effort to ensure reliable and equal service to individuals who are blind and use service animals. Lyft’s affirmative and proactive efforts will help ensure its convenient and affordable transportation services are available to riders who are blind and use service animals across the United States.
As part of that effort, Lyft today kicked off the company’s first Service Animal Month, which is part of a multi-pronged initiative to ensure that all individuals with disabilities who travel with service animals on the Lyft platform can fully enjoy the benefits of connecting with drivers through the Lyft app.
Lyft has also announced a new policy which clarifies that every Lyft rider who has a service animal must be accommodated, regardless of a driver’s preferences or circumstances. Lyft drivers who don’t comply with the new policy may face immediate and permanent deactivation from the platform. Lyft is also committing to a number of driver education initiatives that are aimed squarely at raising awareness of the new service animal policy amongst its driver community. Drivers will be educated about the new service animal policy through videos, announcements, and other outreach, that will begin as soon as a driver is approved to perform rides, and will continue throughout the driver’s business relationship with Lyft. Lyft is also working to improve customer service for blind riders.
Lucy Greco, Accessibility Evangelist for UC Berkeley said “I am so pleased that Lyft was willing to work with us to improve access for riders with service animals. I look forward to using Lyft once the changes are in place.”
Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Companies like Lyft are empowering blind people to live the lives we want by providing fast, convenient and affordable transportation. This empowerment can only be real and complete, however, if all blind people, including those who use guide dogs, are able to access the service when and where they need it, without fear that they will be refused service. My wife Melissa uses a guide dog, and consequently our family has occasionally experienced the refusal of transportation services, which violates the legal and civil rights of the blind and people with disabilities. The National Federation of the Blind applauds Lyft’s commitment to improve its service to guide dog users, and we look forward to working with Lyft to ensure that its efforts to do so are meaningful and effective.”
Laura Copeland, Lyft’s Head of Community said, “Lyft is excited to partner with the NFB to confirm its commitment that everyone who requests a ride through the Lyft app is provided with equal service, regardless of whether the rider is accompanied by a service animal. At Lyft, we are committed to creating a community where everyone feels welcome, comfortable, and respected. Drivers should always say yes when it comes to transporting riders with service animals.”
Lyft is implementing these changes pursuant to an agreement with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), and Lucy Greco and Lynda Johnson, who both travel with guide dogs. NFB, Ms. Greco, and Ms. Johnson were represented by Michael Bien, Gay C. Grunfeld and Michael Nunez of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, Mary-Lee K. Smith and Julia Marks of Disability Rights Advocates, and Timothy Elder of the TRE Legal Practice, in the negotiations that led to these changes.
Final copies of the settlement agreement and first amendment to the settlement agreement are available here:
About the National Federation of the Blind:
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back. For more information, visit http://nfb.org.
Lyft was founded in June 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation. Lyft is the fastest growing rideshare company in the U.S and is available in more than 300 cities. Lyft is preferred by drivers and passengers for its safe and friendly experience, and its commitment to effecting positive change for the future of our cities.
About the TRE Legal Practice:
TRE Legal is a law firm focusing on the rights of blind people, including the right to independently access technology-based services. For more information, visit www.trelegal.com.
About Disability Rights Advocates:
DRA is the leading nonprofit disability rights legal center advancing equal rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. For more information, visit www.dralegal.org, or contact Julia Marks, email@example.com.
About Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP:
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP is a law firm that has extensive experience representing people with disabilities in litigation against public and private entities. For more information, visit http://rbgg.com/, or contact Michael Nunez, firstname.lastname@example.org.