There are many different visual impairments. Some visually impaired people can see more than others. Many will need help to get around safely.
For some passengers, this may be a new disability. They may not have used a taxi since losing their sight. They may not feel confident telling you what they need.
Always ask the passenger what help they need. Never assume. Talk to the passenger throughout the journey.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like a copy of this guide in:
You can also watch a video guide to supporting visually impaired passengers Go to https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/TaxiDisabledGuidance/ (opens new window). Fill in the short survey after the video to tell us what you think of it.
The passenger's booking:
- will usually say that the passenger is visually impaired (or has any other disabilities or access needs)
- may explain other important requirements, such as if the passenger needs you to guide them into the car
When you arrive
Your passenger probably can't see you arrive, so you need to tell them.
- ring the doorbell or knock on their door, or
- approach them and speak to them if you're at a taxi rank
- tell them you're aware they have a visual impairment
- ask them how you can help them
Maintain social distance by staying a few steps back.
The passenger may not be able to read your badge. Tell them your name and badge number.
Help the passenger into the taxi
Open and close doors for the passenger. Tell them you're doing this.
Ask the passenger if they'd like you to place their hand on top of the door, or on the vehicle.
Check which side of the vehicle they would prefer to sit on. Their sight or mobility maybe better on one side than the other. It can be useful to explain the layout of the vehicle, such as how much space is in front of them.
Make sure the passenger is sitting down safely before driving off. Ask them if they need you to explain how to fasten their seatbelt.
Always ask what help the passenger needs. Never assume.
It might be helpful to guide the passenger by asking them to follow the sound of your voice.
Highlight any obstacles in the passenger's way, even if they have a stick. This includes:
- other people
- changes in the pavement surface
- up or down slopes in the pavement or road
Offer the passenger your arm at the elbow so you can guide them.
Talk to the passenger regularly to make sure they know how the journey is going, for example if there are any delays or diversions.
If you ask them what route they'd prefer you to take, describe it using road names or landmarks rather than left, right or straight on.
Don't ask the passenger for directions or whether you've reached the destination, because it's likely they won't be able to see.
When you've arrived at the destination:
- tell the passenger, because they may not be able to see where you are
- describe the the drop off point so the passenger knows where they are, such as which side of the building or road you're at
- open and close doors for them
- help them out of the car or to their destination if necessary
- point out any obstacles near them, such as steps or kerbs
Maintain social distancing as much as possible. Guide the passenger by speaking to them when you can.
You may need to briefly get close to your passenger to help them. You can:
- wear a face covering
- use hand sanitiser and following the COVID-19 safety guidelines for taxi and private hire drivers
- offer your elbow, rather than your hand, to guide the passenger
- use a cover on your arm
You can also offer sanitiser to the passenger.
You and the passenger must wear a face covering at all times during the journey, unless exempt.
When you're outside, if face coverings make it hard for you and the passenger to communicate, you can agree to widen the space between you, so that you can temporarily take your face covering off.
Visit Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer transport guidance for operators Go to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-transport-guidance-for-operators (opens new window) on GOV.UK.
Passengers should sit as far away from you as possible during the pandemic. However, some dogs have been trained to sit in the front with their owner.
If this is the case, you must allow this. You can do this safely by:
- wearing a face covering
- using sanitiser
- opening the windows for ventilation
You must not insist on where the dog should be in the car. You can ask the owner to make sure the dog is lying down by their feet.
If you're worried about cleanliness, you can provide a rug or blanket for the dog to sit on, and ask the owner to make sure it does.
If you approach any requests in an open and friendly way, the assistant dog owner maybe happy to agree.
If you're in close contact with passengers, you should get tested twice a week. Rapid testing is most effective when people take tests regularly.