Last year, Onur Kerey went viral when someone snapped a picture of his friendly sign telling riders that’s he’s deaf, and giving them some tips on how to communicate with him. We caught up with Onur for Deaf Awareness Week.
Uber: Hey Onur, tell us how you started driving with Uber?
Onur: I wanted to [partner] with Uber as a driver because I like driving, also some other cab companies do not allow deaf drivers!
What features does Uber have that makes it easier for a deaf driver to use the app?
It is great that the app gives me the destination first, so there’s no need to ask where riders are going.
How does driving with Uber differ to jobs you’ve previously done?
Flexibility to work for myself and decide my own schedule and to take on a new challenge!
How should a rider get your attention?
The rider needs to check the mirror and wave or tap my shoulder [if the car isn’t moving] so I will know and look round to you.
What should a rider never do to get the attention of a deaf driver?
They should not speak too loud or too fast, as profoundly deaf will still not hear, so that’s why I bring notepad just in case.
What tips could you give to riders if they have a deaf driver?
If you try to learn some basic sign, please use BSL (British sign language) as some riders show me ASL (American sign language), which I don’t understand as it is different sign language.
What prompted you to write the sign in your car?
At first, it was mainly for awareness, as I didn’t want people getting into my car and assuming I can hear but was ignoring them, when really it’s because I’m deaf.
What reaction do you normally get when riders read it?
When people read it they usually just say ‘Oh I see’ and then at the end, most passengers say thank you in sign language.
Do riders often use the AUX cable to play their own music?
Yes, they pick their own music, mostly at the weekend.
When did you know the image/tweet of your sign had gone viral?
I found out it was viral from my friend, and it was on maybe 2,000 likes.
How did you react when it went viral?
I was not expecting it to go viral on Twitter and spread to some news websites! I was busy looking at all the comments. I had told my family and they were so excited that I went viral.
Do riders recognise you as a result of it?
Yes some of them show me the picture on Instagram or Twitter
If you had one important message to spread around Deaf Awareness Week, what would it be?
Learning basic signs will be a bonus for yourself and deaf people so you can have a conversation. It’s important to not feel awkward if you can’t speak with a deaf person, it’s easy to just write something on a phone to show them and they can reply with writing. Also if you try to speak to a hard of hearing person, and they don’t fully understand what you say the first time, repeat yourself clearly and don’t just say ‘oh don’t worry’.