Blind, deaf woman with service dog says Uber driver denied her ride

Robbie Esper says driver sped away and canceled ride

By Janine Stanwood - Anchor/Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Robbie Esper is legally blind and is deaf and her guide dog Sarah is vital to help her get around. So she couldn't believe it when an Uber driver denied her a ride Sunday at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

"He told me that he would not transport me or let me in his car with my dog," Esper said. "And before I could say anything else he rolled up the window and he canceled the ride."

But Esper, who has a condition called Usher syndrome, sees well enough to snap a photo. She photographed the vehicle after it drove away.

She said he canceled the ride and another driver came instead. 

"I was extremely frustrated. I'm angry," Esper said.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a guide dog is a type of service animal that is trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities and generally can go wherever their handler goes.

Uber's website makes it clear: Drivers legally can't deny service to riders with service animals. That's discrimination.

In 2016, Uber entered into a settlement agreement with the National Federation of the Blind. According to officials with the Department of Justice, Uber agreed to require that all of its drivers provide equal service to people with disabilities who use service animals. 

A spokesperson for Uber told Local 10 via email: "We've reached out to the rider to offer our support, and the driver's access has been removed while we investigate."

"They should not be driving," Esper said of drivers who deny rides.

Copyright 2019 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.