Driving with Deafness
There is no bar to driving or learning to drive an ordinary car while deaf. The driving test will be to the same standard and assess the same things as any other test. The examiner will make suitable allowances for communication depending on the extent of the deafness.
There is an 02 provision on the Driver Licence Codes but this is not used. The reason it’s there is to bring all the codes into line across The EU. Whether this code will disappear remains to be seen.
In terms of learning to drive it will depend on the extent of the deafness. All the normal things an instructor would do will apply but more so. Treat as a visual and or kinesthetic learner. Think about all the things in a car that have an audible element too them. Remember the greater the extent of hearing loss the more challenges they have already overcome.
- Make sure doors are shut (lights interior and dash).
- Gear changing as revs go over 2000.
- Feel of gear change as sometimes not always in.
- Remember bite can both be felt and seen (movement of car against the handbrake).
- More use of mirrors.
- More use of visual clues, reflections, blue lights ect.
- Awareness of what might click or make an alarm.
- Deliberate glance to instruments as will not hear clicking or alarms.
For the purposes of driving instruction we will look at 3 levels.
Partial. Some hearing loss. Student can hear without being face to face. Instructions/directions can be done on the move.
Can be dealt with using hearing aids. Not everyone will chose to wear them. Instructor needs to speak clearly. As the lessons progress the student will get used to the instructors voice and so hear better. Lots of stops so everything can be explained clearly while stopped. Be aware that the student may miss things. Particularly if done on the move.
2. Profound. Will hear some sound and will also possibly lip read.
Will use hearing aids. Eye contact will be an aid to communication. This will enable lip reading. Instructor needs to speak clearly. As the lessons progress the student will get used to the instructors voice and so hear better. As above, more stops. Use of visual training aids. Important to get an idea of how profound the deafness is. It is possible they may be difficult to understand as the deafness can make saying the words difficult. Lots of checking of understanding, and that’s for both instructor and student. If the student has a journal this could be useful.
3. Completely. No sound or very little and possible without speech.
Eye contact essential unless the student has some level of autism. A journal is a must, as are visual training aids. Agree any hand signals. And quite possibly BSL. You would need a very specialised instructor for that.
The Neil Beaver Robosoul Apps are very good and can be emailed to the student. Be prepared to draw and write things down in the students journal. Take care with selecting the training routes as you will need to make sure you have plenty of suitable stops. Clear objectives to the lesson as always will help.