Pin Lu Was an Accountant Before Ferrying Passengers; ‘Deaf People Are Good Drivers Because They Focus and Pay Attention’
Wall Street Journal
By LILIT MARCUS
Feb. 1 , 2015
In many ways, Pin Lu is a typical UberX driver.
He uses his own car, complete with a crocheted owl dangling from the rearview mirror, to ferry passengers who hail him via the popular ride-sharing app.
He often works long hours, saving to start his own business someday.
And he takes pride in his user ratings, saying he has earned 4.82 out of a possible 5 stars.
But when New Yorkers step into Mr. Lu’s green 2011 Honda Accord, many are surprised to be handed a note asking them to type a destination into the GPS.
Mr. Lu, the note explains, is deaf.
“Let me know if you have a preferred route by using your hand motion as direction,” it reads. “If you have any questions, knock your hand to my shoulder. Write/type note to me as communication.”
Uber Technologies Inc. estimates it has about 40 deaf “driver-partners” across the U.S. and predicts that number is likely to grow as the company expands into new markets.
Mr. Lu, a spokeswoman said, is one of its first in the New York area.
Mr. Lu, 29 years old, was born without hearing in Fuzhou, China, and immigrated to Queens with his family when he was 10.
After earning an accounting degree from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2011, he spent about two years doing accounting work for the Defense Department in Rome, N.Y., but he grew tired of small-town life “in the middle of nowhere,” he says.