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By Carolyn Said
January 1, 2015

Kellye Rogers scrambled into the front seat of her Lyft ride on a rainy San Francisco night. The driver, Andrew Kucharski, pointed to his ear, shook his head and mouthed the words “I’m deaf.”

She lit up. “I know some signing,” she said aloud, as she signed the words. Kucharski flashed a big grin and the two chatted enthusiastically in American Sign Language en route to Restoration Hardware.

“So driving for Lyft works well with being deaf?” Rogers asked.

He gave a thumbs-up and signed, “I’m happy; I’m free. I meet friendly people.”

In San Francisco, dozens of deaf people drive for the app-based ride service Lyft — a phenomenon that started naturally and now is nurtured by the startup with outreach and support groups. Like other ride-service drivers, deaf people say they appreciate setting their own hours and being their own boss. But the work holds extra resonance for people who sometimes confront barriers to traditional employment and can experience social isolation from hearing people.

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