Lyft lets people with disabilities pay with special ABLE accounts

The move might have limited impact, with just 20,000 ABLE accounts in use.

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Lyft has teamed up with the National Down Syndrome Society to let riders pay for their trips with ABLE accounts, which are savings accounts for those with disabilities and their families. They can use earnings to pay for certain expenses, like medical treatment and now Lyft rides, without forking over taxes.

The move might only have a limited impact, though. It seems there are only around 20,000 ABLE accounts in use -- given approximately 8 million Americans are eligible, a lot of people are missing out (Engadget has contacted the ABLE National Resource Center to clarify these figures). For the moment, the Lyft program is open to those on the Oregon ABLE and Ohio STABLE plans, the latter of which is available nationwide. There are ABLE projects in 33 states and the District of Columbia, and it's not clear when users of other programs can use their accounts to pay for rides.

Lyft is trying to position itself as the go-to ridesharing option for those with disabilities through several accessibility efforts. Its relationship with NDSS stretches back almost five years, and it also has partnerships with the National Association of the Deaf, the National Federation for the Blind and Aira. In February, it started a project to help more people hitch rides to non-emergency medical appointments. However, Lyft's efforts haven't been perfect -- it is facing a lawsuit over a lack of wheelchair accessibility in San Francisco.

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