Seoul, South Korea’s Trial Run
New technology was put to the test on the city’s roads in June 2018 for deaf drivers—built-in tablets in taxi cars.
Each taxi has two tablets installed, one in the front for the driver and one in the back for the clients to communicate destinations with the driver. This way, the passengers can choose to speak, write, or type into the app for the driver to see and respond back.
The App’s Development
The app on the tablets was developed by a group of university students at Dongguk University under a startup called Coactus and is led by computer engineering major Song Min-Pyo. Coactus developed the app called Goyohan Taxi, “Silent Taxi” in Korean; “we just wanted to provide deaf people with more job opportunities,” Song Min-Pyo said.
The developers at Coactus were inspired by Uber’s projects with the deaf community and saw a similar need for a solution for the deaf drivers of South Korea.
The App In Action
Coactus built the app and proposed the project to Seoul Metropolitan Government in conjunction with Korea Association of the Deaf to place more deaf drivers in the city. First, they tested the app with two deaf taxi drivers for three months so the app could be refined before expanding to a larger scale.
The tests proved to be successful and Korean cab company Shinshin had a positive reaction to the program. They agreed to participate for their own cabs and are looking forward to employing more deaf drivers. Coactus is expanding the app’s scale to create approximately 50 more jobs for drivers, starting with Namyangju in Gyeonggi Province.
Currently, all Korean cab drivers still must meet the requirements of being able to hear over 55 decibels, have spotless driving history, and pass the rigorous driving course.