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Disability awareness

Disability awareness and customer care

The structure of the taxi industry includes a large number of small companies – including one person operations.  This makes it quite difficult to ensure training for drivers in disability awareness or indeed customer care training in general.  Many disabled people have experienced discrimination or inappropriate service from taxi companies and there is an urgent need for better training and quality control.  This is a pity since there is a good market here as some of the better taxi companies have discovered. 

Wheelchair taxi users

For many disabled people, especially those who are unable to drive or use conventional public transport, hackney carriage and private hire taxis are a very important means of getting around.  However the extent to which disabled people are able to access taxis varies from area to area depending on whether the vehicles are wheelchair accessible.  Increasingly hackneys are wheelchair accessible especially in the big cities where most hackneys are wheelchair accessible.   There are some private hire taxis that are wheelchair accessible but this varies from area to area.

However, there are still many local areas where there are none or only a few wheelchair taxis available leading to disabled people having to specify wheelchair accessibility and this in turn can lead to discrimination.  The issue of whether hackneys fleets should be 100% wheelchair accessible is still not settled and many local authorities are looking to DfT for a firmer lead on what to do - in part because disabled people themselves are divided with some such as ambulant disabled preferring saloon hackneys. 

A growing problem is whether the size of some wheelchairs and mobility scooters fit into taxis and private hire vehicles. For further information about which wheelchairs are accessible to taxis click here

Visually impaired taxi users

Some purpose-built taxis have special features such as bright yellow easy to use door handles and speaker systems which can help visually impaired users check meters. Taxis are also required by law to carry your Assistance Dog free of charge and the dog must be allowed to stay with the owner.  The wide floor base of purpose-built taxis is especially useful for Assistance Dogs. The Royal National Institute for the Blind can supply a taxi sign to help with hailing -

Hearing impaired taxi users

A key issue for people with hearing impairment is the taxi telephone booking system which often lacks features such as Minicom.  Some taxis also include induction loops.


NATU holds that all hackneys should be wheelchair accessible.   In addition many private hire firms have found that providing wheelchair accessible vehicles (which are also able to carry larger groups of passengers), swivel seats in saloon cars and other features such as minicom booking systems is good for both business and customers.


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