New taxi driver training program for customers with disabilities and seniors launches in Vancouver

January 29, 2014 | Safer Communities

Program to improve taxi accessibility first of its kind in Canada

At Vancouver City Hall today, Mayor Gregor Robertson, the Vancouver Taxi Association and the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities officially launched ‘Ask-Listen-Act’, a new form of enhanced taxi driver training involving seniors and people with disabilities. The program is the first of its kind in Canada.

“The launch of ‘Ask-Listen-Act’ will help make our taxi fleet more accessible and convenient for local seniors and people with disabilities,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “From our new building code to enhanced investments in pedestrian safety, the City is committed to improving accessibility for everyone. I want to thank the VTA for their leadership in creating this program, and to the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities and all of the stakeholders who were involved in its development.”

‘Ask-Listen-Act’ Enhanced Taxi Driver Training will provide Vancouver taxi drivers with extensive training to ensure customers with different types of disabilities are transported safely and respectfully. In development since April 2012, the program is created by the Vancouver Taxi Association, in partnership with the City of Vancouver and the BC Coalition of Disabilities, and involved consultation with several groups, including the City’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, Seniors Advisory Committee, Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of BC (COSCO), Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers, and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, among others.

“The Vancouver taxi companies – Black Top Checker Cabs, Maclures Cabs, Vancouver Taxi and Yellow Cab are proud to launch ‘Ask-Listen-Act’ Enhanced Taxi Driver Training,” said Carolyn Bauer of the Vancouver Taxi Association. “We take pride in our operations and are always looking for ways to improve our services, especially when it comes to passengers with disabilities or seniors. We believe this new program will make a meaningful difference for people with disabilities or seniors.”

“We congratulate the Vancouver Taxi Association for proactively working with people with disabilities and seniors on this important project,” said Jane Dyson, Executive Director of the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities. “The VTA took the time to listen to what was needed and then act on developing this innovative training in partnership with the BCCPD to ensure that people with disabilities and seniors receive a safe and respectful taxi service.”

‘Ask-Listen-Act’ will provide specific training for taxi drivers when serving customers with a range of disabilities including those using mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters. It also provides guidance for helping customers with developmental disabilities, customers who are blind or visually impaired, customers with guide or assistance dogs, and customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Drivers can begin the training on February 3rd. There are over 2,300 drivers and 588 cabs in Vancouver, and no charge for the training. One in six people in BC has a disability and one in eight people in Vancouver is 65 years of age or older.

Groups that were consulted in the development of the program include Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers, Black Top Checker Cabs, CNIB, Cerebral Palsy Association, City of Vancouver Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, Community and Residents Mentors Association, GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, MacLures Cabs, Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of BC (COSCO), Vancouver Taxi, Yellow Cabs, Job Burton, Pam Horton, and Wendy St. Marie.