SKT to launch cab-hailing app for deaf drivers

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SKT to launch cab-hailing app for deaf drivers


An SK Telecom employee introduces the T Map Taxi car-hailing app specially designed for taxi drivers with hearing impairments on Thursday in Seoul. [SK TELECOM]

SK Telecom is launching a taxi-hailing app dedicated to taxi drivers with hearing impairments in partnership with Coactus, a local start-up that has been developing driving-aid solutions for taxi drivers.

According to SK Telecom on Thursday, it is currently training drivers with hearing impairments on how to use a special T Map Taxi app designed for them. Customers will be able to hail taxis driven by drivers with impairments within the next few weeks.

While Coactus has developed a solution dubbed Goyohan Taxi that helps deaf taxi drivers communicate with customers using a tablet PC, SK Telecom said it will open up its expanded business network to taxi drivers by inviting them into the driver pool of its taxi-hailing app.

SK Telecom’s new app will also have special features made for deaf drivers, such as alerting them of a new customer with a flashing light and enabling customers and drivers to check each other’s locations via text messages rather than with phone calls.

The driver matching system won’t change because of the new special app. The closest driver to a customer will still be matched, but customers will be alerted that the driver has a hearing impairment before the taxi arrives.

“For some people who might not be comfortable with being matched with drivers with hearing impairments, they will be allowed to reject the match,” a spokesperson from SK Telecom said.

Currently, only 12 drivers with hearing impairments are registered with the service, but nine more will soon be registered according to Coactus CEO Song Min-pyo. SK Telecom and Coactus hope to create jobs for 100 deaf taxi drivers by the end of this year.

The carrier said its service will help improve the employment prospects of the roughly 300,000 people with hearing impairments in Korea by lowering the entry barrier to work as taxi drivers. Data from the Korea Employment Agency for the Disabled shows that only 37.1 percent of the population with hearing impairments are employed as of the first quarter of 2017.

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