We sometimes wonder, how in the world can deaf people drive if they can’t hear? The right to drive is a big thing that not only concerns hearing people, but also deaf people. Without it, deaf people are only restricted in their ability to work and access to medical, community, and other services.
However, the deaf community had strived hard to fight for this right. Back in the 1920s, the time where the US was adopting their first vehicle laws, several states also created laws that enable deaf people to acquire a driver’s license despite their condition. Education is key and educating everyone that deaf people don’t show any threat to public safety is crucial. Because of this, the National Association of the Deaf has won over to exclude such discriminatory laws.
But despite that, deaf people are still being discriminated when it comes to driving. Some companies refuse to hire deaf drivers because of safety concerns. Even worse, deaf people are also denied to rent or just test drive a car. It will also be harder to prove once an accident happens involving deaf people, where hearing people will just make an assumption that it’s the deaf people’s fault because of their condition.
Ensuring Safety for Deaf Drivers
We have that mindset that it’s impossible for a deaf person to drive because they can’t hear anything. What we didn’t know is that there are cars/vehicles these days that’s been altered or modified with deaf people in mind. Such cars are installed with electronic devices that alerts them whenever a sound is coming from outside their vehicle. Deaf drivers also rely on visual cues. An example is when a driver moves to the other side of the road it indicates that an emergency vehicle is approaching.
You may also be wondering how would deaf people communicate whenever they’re being pulled over by a police. In the US, deaf drivers are given special state-issued cards that they can show to the police to prove their condition. Deaf drivers will be given a notebook by the police so they can communicate by writing. However, some deaf drivers don’t need a card for this since they are able to lip read without problems.
Studies show that deaf drivers are less likely to get involved in road accidents. This shows that driving is mainly a visual activity and not an audible one. Research also shows that deaf people have better peripheral vision compared to hearing people, which is a big advantage despite their disability.
The Right to Drive for Deaf Drivers
Based on a report from 2009, World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) found that out of 93 national deaf organizations throughout the world, 31 of them still doesn’t allow deaf people to obtain a driver’s license in their country. Some of these organizations have stayed silent about this matter, which makes it unclear if how many countries still deny deaf people and their right to drive.
Below is a thorough list of regions and their countries that allows deaf people to drive. Some countries are still not available yet, and we have to wait in a matter of time when will they implement this law.
East and South Africa: Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe
Western and Central Africa: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, DR Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Sierra Leone
Arab Region: Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia
Asia and Pacific: Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal (2012), New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand
Eastern Europe and Middle Asia: Republic of Belarus, Bulgaria, Republic of Kazakhstan, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Republic of Uzbekistan
European Union: All countries
North America, Central America, and the Caribbean: Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Suriname, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela