Uber's Blind Passenger

To support and celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, I decided to have a UX project for people with disabilities. So I was looking for an interesting topic and idea and found a headline that took my attention. 


After I started to read the article, I realized the rideshare users with visual impairments are suffering problems. And I was also curious about how they manipulate smartphones?

So before I started to collect problems from blind and visually impaired users, I studied first how they manipulate the smart devices.



VoiceOver is a built-in screen reader that reads aloud the items that appear on the device screen. It vocalizes all visible elements in the page, especially for blind or impaired, dyslexic or illiterate users.

VoiceOver common gestures



  • The auditory sense is their vision in digital.

  • It takes a longer time to reach a CTA because the voiceover works from top to bottom and the users can’t skip the elements.


What Problems Do They Suffer?

I researched and gathered all the tips and problems that blind and visually impaired users are suffering during their whole journey in Uber. 

Deriving the Problem


After I listed 16 problems and tips of the whole journey, I realize that most of the tips and problems are related to safety. So I sorted the problems into different experiences. At what experience do they have the most problems.
 The experiences are Onboarding, Requesting, Matching &Waiting, In-ride, and After-ride experiences.

Problems in In-Ride Experience

  • They turn on GPS or navigation apps to track themself externally from the uber app.
  • GPS or navigation app provides more information than uber provides for passengers to track in voiceover.
  • When ETA is changing, they can suspect about the driver is going in the wrong direction.
  • They share with friends/families to track their rides.
  • Screenshot the driver’s profile & share it with friends/families.
  • They have their own safety code with someone they can trust.
  • Having a conversation on the phone during the rides makes them feel safer.
  • Double-check with the driver about the destination before they drop off from the uber.


  • The onboarding experience is a necessary step before they are familiar with the Uber app.

  • The goal of these problems and tips is to get to the destination safely.
 But currently, they don’t feel safe in the in-ride experience.
  • When the problems were filtered down by experiences, the most problems and tips went into the
 in-ride experience.

After categorizing the problems, I wanted to experience the journey as a blind user and also curious why the problems are concentrated in the in-ride experience. So I requested a Uber with voiceover. And I compared the information between non-voiceover and voiceover.


Information Comparison



  • Most of the information is the same with non-voiceover.

  • Map-related and directional information isn't provided to voiceover users.

  • In the Requesting, and Matching & Waiting experience, the blind users know theirs location. But in the In-Ride experience, the blind users don't know where they are. So the experience has the most problems and tips.

The research about what problems do blind and visually impaired users suffer, I was able to define at what stage(experience), why the users are suffering a problem.


The accessibility for tracking in-ride experience is low for blind and visually impaired users.
Because the voiceover users aren't getting enough information to track their location compared with non-voiceover users.


Providing a reliable experience for users with visual impairments.


Lifestyle Behavior

  1. They generally know the layout and memorize where things are when they are in a familiar place. 

  2. Blind and visually impaired people use their senses to adapt to their environments, such as sound, touch, and smell.

  3. They memorize important street names, locations and etc. 

  4. They don’t count their steps.

  5. The visually handicapped people use the white cane to help to perceive their path. The white cane allows to know a crosswalk, entrance, poles and clears obstacles.
  6. Guide dogs help to lead the handlers to arrive safely to the desired destination.

  7. A sighted(or human) guide is the simplest of all the methods in unfamiliar places or if there are large crowds.

  8. The Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) helps blind and visually impaired people in determining when it is safe to cross the street.
  9. Various technology devices are now making it easier for blind and visually impaired people to find their way around.

Google Maps launched a new feature to help the visually impaired with detailed voice navigation.

  • The Google Maps detailed voice navigation will tell the users are on the right path, remind them how far away is the next turn, and can even warn the users if they about to cross busy intersections.

  • The feature is currently available in US and Japan.


  • They are using auditory, olfactory, and tactile senses to adapt to the environment.

    In those senses, auditory is the most accurate sense to know about the environment, if there is the specific information of street name and conditions.

  • Google Maps’ detailed voice navigation is very similar to the navigation when we are driving a car. 
Google Map’s detailed voice navigation provides detailed information and guides the users to stay on the right path in a screen-free experience.

If the Uber drivers are using navigation with voice navigation, couldn't the passengers hear it?


How Was My Ride
In The Passenger Seat?

I had several experiences of Uber rides as a passenger for researching purposes. During the rides, I researched how are the drivers’ behavior with the navigation service, and what type of environmental conditions do the users are having in the in-ride experience.

My In-Ride Experience


From my in-ride experience, I found some interesting insight.

  • Senior drivers (50-70), prefer to have voice-guided turned on.
  • Younger drivers (20-40), turned off the voice-guided 
because they don’t like the voice or sound, and they think the sound would bother the passengers.
  • One of the drivers said all of his uber driver friends are using Google Maps because it is more accurate than any other navigation app.
  • One of the reasons to use Uber Navigation from Uber driver is the accessibility is easier than the Google Maps.
  • The in-ride experience conditions bother and barely listen the voice-guided from drivers’ devices. The conditions are opened windows, conversation with a driver, non-English voice-guided, radio, music, low volume, and the sneeze guard for drivers.


  • Uber has their own navigation service.

  • Senior drivers prefer to have voice-guided, but younger drivers prefer to turn off the voice-guided.

  • It is almost unable to hear the voice-guided from the driver’s device to the passenger seat due to the conditions in the ride.


In-ride voice navigation for passengers.


New UI icon

I created a speaker UI on the passenger’s device when they are in the in-ride stage. And it will voice-guide the route information.

This voice guidance will apply to every user, if users don’t want to hear the information, they always can turn off the voice guidance by tapping the speaker UI.



What information helps blind users feel safe?


From the map, the speaker UI can deliver information on street namesdirections (left/right), compass directions, distancetimepathfinder, and traffic intersections. But what is the most efficient information that makes blind users feel safe?

So I conducted 2 interviewee groups. One with non-voiceover users, and the others with voiceover users. From the 2 different groups' A/B test, I was able to know what is the key insight that I am missing and the reasons.

A/B Test



  • Distance (to next turn)
  • Direction (Left/Right)
  • Street name
  • Pathfinder
  • Traffic Intersection

*Users will get voice guidance when there is a direction change, large traffic intersection, and every 3 minutes when there is no direction change.



  • Distance (Total remain)
  • Time (Total duration / Arrival time)
  • Pathfinder

*Users will get voice guidance at every quarter of the total distance.
*Pathfinder = Tracking the uber is on the route.


Non-Voiceover Users


From the survey with non-voiceover users, 89% selected Design B. The reasons were

  • Street names and directional information don’t make the passengers feel safe. Because passengers wouldn’t know without the map.

  • Design A looks like a guide for drivers, not for passengers.
  • Timing information looks better than directional information. Because too much information can be redundant for blind passengers.

Voiceover Users


From the survey of voiceover users, 100% selected Design A. The reasons were

  • All of the voiceover interviewees said that they have a mental map in their minds. And they have a great sense of mapping it with detailed information. So more detailed information makes them feel more secure.
  • Information B is similar to current information that voiceover users get. But the current information doesn’t help them to track where they are. 


  • Blind and visually impaired users have a mental map in their minds. Interviewees with vision and I didn’t know that fact.

  • Blind and visually impaired users have a great sense of mapping in their mind if they have information of street names, directions, and compass directions.

  • Once the voiceover users adapt an app or layout, they can make faster CTAs without the voiceover. They know where the buttons are from their assumption.

The Final Design


The Final Information

From the A/B test with different groups, I learned what information is helpful for blind and visually impaired users to track their location. 

The Information

  • Street Name
  • Turning Direction
  • Remaining Distance & Time
  • Pathfinder

Prototype Design

Click play button to see prototype

What if

I got feedback and thoughts while I was conducting the A/B test. I also agreed with the feedback, so I decided to reflect on the feedback on the A/B test and my concerns.

The feedbacks are

  • It might feel safer if users can hear the information whenever they want.
  • I think it would be also necessary to let them know about what streets and where they are in exactly as well.

Do users want to hear more information?


At the home screen, tap the profile and Settings > Voice Guide, and toggle the information to as the user want to update.

Do users have a different distance unit?


Users can change the units in Settings > Voice Guide > Distance Units.

Do users want to change the notification term?


Setting > Voice Guide > Notification Term and adjusting the term. The notification term is calculated from the total distance of the trip.

Can users track whenever they want?


For blind and visually impaired users, they can swipe up to track their route with information.

Customer Satisfaction

How Was Your Customer Satisfaction?


I asked blind and visually impaired users about customer satisfaction. The result was above 4 out of 5. The reasons are:

  • It is important to track with voiceover for blind and visually impaired users.
  • Some voiceover users are having challenges with technology. This voiceover tracking will help them for better accessibility.
  • This is helping improve the in-ride experience.

What I Have Learned

From the project, I thought about the information gap between users with vision and non-vision. The insight that I learned is that if we don’t think about the users with a disability, a smartphone can be a tool for discrimination because users' information is not the same for all.

In a conclusion, I learned a comprehensive design mindset to think and look at a product from different angles and users.