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As a driver of persons with disabilities,
you need to be aware of the unique
needs of your passengers, who may
range from young children to senior
citizens. As their needs may be related
to cognitive, developmental, sensory or
physical disabilities, you will want to be
familiar with ways you can provide the
best customer service for the different
disabilities. For example, frail seniors and
those with reduced mobility may have
health conditions that affect their balance
and lead to unsteadiness or falls.

It is also important to be sensitive to
your client’s personal space. Drivers
should recognize that some people
may feel uncertain if they are in a new
environment.

It is important to communicate with
your passengers by responding to each
person’s needs. As disabilities can
affect an individual in different ways at
different times, never assume you know
an individual’s needs without first asking.
Above all, be patient, courteous and
understanding of your client’s needs.

General rules for
communicating

• Take time to discover each person’s
   preferred method of communicating.
   Whenever possible, communicate
   directly with the person with the
   disability before addressing an
   attendant.

• When meeting a client for the first time,
   it is important to review the process
   that will be followed to transport the
   individual. This way the client will
   be reassured and understand
   what is happening.
• When talking for any significant time to 
   those using wheelchairs or mobility aids,
   place yourself in front of them, at their
   eye level.
• Offer to people who can walk
   assistance when it looks like it is
   needed, but wait until your offer is
   accepted before you help.
• When assisting people who are visually
   impaired, it is important you identify
   yourself. Offer to help by saying
   something like, “You can take my arm”
   or “May I help/guide you”. If your help is
   accepted, let the person being guided
   take hold of your arm.
• When assisting passengers who are
   hearing impaired, gesture with your
   hand or touch their arm lightly to get
   their attention.

General rules for
driving

• Make sure passengers are properly
   secured in the vehicle (both seated and
   wheelchair passengers).
• Drive smoothly, avoiding sudden
   stops, starts and swerves that may
   cause passengers to shift or lose their
   balance. Ease around corners.
• Maintain a comfortable temperature and
   air circulation inside the vehicle.
• Keep the noise level in the vehicle,
   including music or radio, to a level
   comfortable for your clients. 

 

 72   A Commercial Driver’s Guide to Operation, Safety and Licensing

 

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