Disability can take many forms.
Different types of disability and their characteristics include:
- Sensory – e.g. vision impairment and hearing impairment.
- Physical – e.g. cerebral palsy (movement and posture are affected), paraplegia (paralysis of both lower limbs) and quadriplegia (both arms and both legs are affected by paralysis).
- Neurological impairment or acquired brain injury or any combination thereof, which may lead to developmental delay and learning disability, and communication difficulties – e.g. autism spectrum disorder.
- An intellectual disability – e.g. Down Syndrome (some level of intellectual disability and characteristic facial and/or physical features).
- Medical conditions that result in total or partial loss of body function – e.g. multiple sclerosis, circulatory diseases and respiratory diseases.
Passengers who use a mobility aid must be given priority service. You should always stop to pick up passengers with limited mobility as close as possible to where they are situated. This also applies to dropping passengers at their destination.
However, you must obey the road rules and all parking restrictions, even if the passenger asks you to stop illegally, such as in a no stopping zone.
Passengers with wheelchairs
You must accept a fare for a person using a collapsible (folding) wheelchair if the chair can be safely stowed in your vehicle. Conventional taxis can often carry a folding wheelchair in the boot. Always ask permission before you move or touch the passenger’s wheelchair. (For those passengers with another type of wheelchair or a scooter, a booked wheelchair accessible taxi must be used.)
Passengers with assistance animals
Laws state that you must take a passenger with an assistance animal, such as a guide dog for someone who is visually or hearing impaired, in the passenger area of the taxi. If you are driving a station wagon taxi you cannot insist the animal travel in the caged area at the rear. For more information about transporting assistance animals
Laws state that you must accept a passenger who is accompanied by an animal trained to give assistance to a person in relation to a disability and that these animals must be carried in the passenger area of the taxi. These animals include the traditional seeing-eye dog as well as hearing dogs and even dogs trained to detect when someone is about to have an epileptic seizure and can range from German Shepherds to Chihuahua’s. If you are driving a station wagon taxi you cannot insist the animal travel in the caged area at the rear.
When driving people with disability make sure you:
- do not move, touch or lean on a passenger’s wheelchair, unless you have permission
- offer to assist the passenger in loading and unloading any mobility aids
- attract the attention of a passenger with a hearing impairment before speaking, so they know you are talking to them
- maximise the comfort for a passenger with a disability or a medical condition, such as an injury, by taking the smoothest route and avoiding road obstacles and hazards, if they ask you to.