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He was born deaf and worked as a dental technician until he signed up to be both an Uber and Lyft driver last year.“When I lived over there, it wasn’t equal,” Grinman says of his homeland, through a sign language interpreter during an interview. “Deaf people don’t have the same access as hearing people. The majors at college for deaf people were only gym teacher, dental technician, and tailor.” Grinman aspired to be a doctor like his mother, but settled for a career in dentistry, one he would maintain after arriving in America.“When I’m driving, I’m driving outside and I see,” he says.“When I was a dental technician, I was in the lab with four walls every day.If their vehicle passes inspection and meets other criteria, deaf drivers can sign up for both services, and their insurance is even the same as hearing drivers.Though both Uber and Lyft have been bombarded with lawsuits from blind and wheelchair passengers alleging discrimination, the National Association of the Deaf collaborated with both companies to enhance certain features on their apps that cater specifically to deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers.
Grinman has picked up nearly 2,000 passengers since jumpstarting his cab driving career, often working 50- to 60-hour weeks, sometimes taking on fifteen-hour shifts.More recently, after a friend mentioned Uber and Lyft to Grinman, he researched them both, and discovered he was legally qualified to drive their vehicles.He signed up as a driver with the two companies, and within just a few weeks had traded a life of teeth, fluoride, and fluorescent lights for one of speedometers, steering wheels, and Google Maps. I never thought a deaf person could be a driver,” Grinman says. I like that.” The phone apps provide him with customer locations, directions and drop-off points, eradicating much of the need for discourse with his clients.Prior to these technological developments, Grinman could not have driven a cab in New York.Both dispatcher radio pick-up requests and street pick-ups would have been impossible for him.