Can deaf people drive?

Can you drive car, motorcycle, bus or camper with hearing loss?

Driving is essential for managing our freedom of movement and time. In relation to deafness, frequently asked questions are, “can deaf people drive?”, or whether people with hearing impairments are allowed to drive. The answer in both cases is that deaf people are not precluded from driving: neither those who have been deaf since birth, nor those who have suffered a hearing impairment over time. 

Can I drive if I’m deaf or my hearing is impaired?

The answer to the question is yes! People who are deaf or have hearing problems may drive without informing DVLA of their physical condition. However, it is essential to mention that if the vehicle used is a bus, coach or lorry, they are obliged  to inform DVLA by filling in the AUD1 form.

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Apply for a provisional driving licence

Deaf people can apply for a driving licence without any special regulations. However, it is necessary to inform the DVLA in order to take the two examinations: theoretical and practical. 

First Step: Theory test

The first step is to enrol in driving school. In order to obtain a driving licence, it is necessary to take a theory test. To make the test accessible, deaf people can: 

1. Take a BSL interpreter

2. Have a lip speaker during the test

3. Use a listening aid (hearing loop)

Second Step: Find a driving instructor

As regards driving lessons for the deaf, once the theory test has been passed, a learner’s permit is issued and driving lessons can begin. 

It is strongly recommended to take driving lessons from an instructor who knows sign language in order to facilitate conversation to better understand the information and directions given.  If the driving instructor does not know sign language, it is then up to the learner himself to ask him to speak slowly in order to read the lip or to use illustrated cards with the necessary directions. 

Third Step: Driving test

How does a deaf person take a driving test? The driving test follows the same procedure as for driving licenses without restrictions. If the candidate suffers from total deafness, the examination must be performed on a suitable vehicle, according to the indications on the certificate of suitability issued by the Local Medical Commission. 

The learner may take the test alone or use an interpreter during the driving test as well. 

Challenges as a deaf or hearing impaired driver

Hearing is a fundamental sense for driving, and often those with a hearing impairment or, more generally, hearing problems, may experience difficulties of various kinds, such as not being able to hear the car engine or the revs of motorbikes. The same may also be true for the sirens of ambulances or other vehicles dealing with public safety or emergencies, or even car horns that may indicate an imminent danger or a warning message from another driver. Therefore, to safely drive without risk to yourself and others, it is essential to remember to always to wear your hearing aids, as indicated in the hearing aid requirement on the driving license itself and as proscribed by national regulations.

Do I have to wear my hearing aids when I’m driving?

Currently, there is not a specific law for driving with hearing aids in the UK. But their use is strongly recommended as they help the driver during his or her journeys. It will then be easier to identify sounds

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