Uber has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit, filed in 2014, with advocates for the blind. As a condition of the settlement, the AP reports via KRON 4, the company has agreed to require that its drivers confirm they are aware of their legal obligations to transport riders with service animals like dogs. And, according to the National Federation of the Blind, if the company finds that a driver knowingly violates those obligations, they will remove that driver following a single complaint. Uber will also pay $225,000 over the course of three years to the Federation for the Blind, per coverage in CNet,
While federal law requires taxis and Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft to provide transportation to service animals, the Federation for the Blind alleged in its lawsuit that it was aware of more than 40 instances in which drivers, it claimed, refused service to blind passengers with guide dogs.
The Washington Post reported on the lawsuit when it was filed in Northern California District Court. In one cited instance, an UberX driver in California allegedly put a service dog in their trunk, reportedly refusing to pull over when the rider realized the situation. The suit was filed when Uber rejected the chance to negotiate a solution outside of court.
The question of Uber's commitment to riders with disabilities has been raised before. In 2015, Buzzfeed wrote that Uber's app had been inaccessible for more than a month to blind users who rely on VoiceOver, an iOS accessibility function. That bug was eventually fixed.
In a statement regarding the recent settlement, Uber writes, "Our goal... is to make transportation options more accessible to all individuals, including those who are blind, low-vision or have other disabilities."