Fleet Response Offers the Industry’s First Driver Safety Training For the Hearing Impaired

At Sprint, you have to take a defensive driving course before being allowed to drive on company time. The course is administered by Fleet Response, and 800 to 1,000 Sprint employees or new hires take it each year, according to Bret Watson, Fleet Manager at the telecommunications services company.

Last year, Watson heard from Sprint’s human resources department that a small handful of people with hearing impairments had taken the course, and indicated that closed captioning of the video segments would have been helpful in completing it.

“I’ve been running the program for Sprint for well over 10 years and it’s the first time it’s ever come up,” Watson says. But responding aggressively to such accessibility issues is part of the company’s culture. “We’re going to do everything we can do to make accommodations for people with impairments. If we have some individuals who are having audio trouble with the defensive driving training, we need to change that.”

Watson was looking for an immediate fix, so he searched the marketplace for a program that already had closed captioning. “I couldn’t find anybody that offered it,” he says. “Nobody.” So he brought it up to Fleet Response. “If anybody was going to get it done, it would be Fleet Response,” Watson says. “They’re a great partner for us. They’ve never said no to anything I needed.”

AlertDriving, based in Toronto, is Fleet Response’s safety training partner. It was a warm day in mid-May when its Vice President of Partnerships Doug Farrand got a call from Fleet Response. “They told me what they needed and that it should be done quickly,” Farrand recalls. “The conversation was memorable; they said it didn’t matter how many people would make use of the feature because it was the right thing to do.”

Farrand knew the request could be handled; adding captions to a video isn’t technically difficult. But Alert Driving produces training modules in more than a hundred languages for use in over 70 countries. Its content is adapted to different cultures – often based on needs from Fleet Response clients.

Captions would need to reflect cultural differences, language idioms and details of any relevant regulations – such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States. So exactly how to fulfill it – as a single-purpose customization or part of a much larger upgrade – would need to be addressed. “We knew one thing for certain: If there’s a need from one of our most important customers for one of their best customers, we’re going to get it done,” Farrand says.

Within 24 hours, Fleet Response was able to provide Sprint’s HR department with a transcript of the video in the defensive driving module, which could be offered to anyone taking the course. “We were pleased with the speed of that response,” says Jeff Fender, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Fleet Response. “As a first step, we thought that qualified as reasonable accommodation under the ADA. So we had attained the minimum standard – basically overnight. But that was only a first response.”

Farrand agrees: “A transcript doesn’t put the words in the context of what’s happening on the video. It was just a Band-Aid.” Soon after, closed captions were added to the defensive driving course, and by mid-July, every module that Sprint uses had been captioned and subtitled. By the end of August, according to Farrand, every AlertDriving training video had been captioned in American English, British English and Spanish.

In Fender’s words, it was a win-win-win. Sprint got a program to meet its accessibility standards at no additional cost. AlertDriving had upgraded its product. And Fleet Response was able to offer all its safety training customers the first such program with accommodation for people with hearing impairments. “We don’t have a sense how many people across our network will need this feature, and it’s nothing we’re going to charge extra for,” Fender says. “But it means we have the best, most inclusive product available, and that’s important to us.”

For Sprint’s Watson, it reinforced the value of having a flexible business partner. “Fleet Response is very well integrated with our HR team,” he says. “I don’t know how many people come and go through our company in the course of a year, but we totally rely on Fleet Response for the help they provide us. They’re flexible to our needs and always responsive. They’ve become part of our culture.”

“We work well with Fleet Response,” Farrand echoes. “They ask for unique requirements, and we work back and forth as partners to get it done. That’s how they serve their customers, and it’s a strong guide for the way we like to operate as well.”

To discuss how to improve response to your unique safety training or claims management needs, contact Jodie Varner, Vice President of Client Engagement at Fleet Response, contact@fleetresponse.com.