Driving licence within reach of hearing impaired

Youngsters with hearing and speech imparity experience hardships and humiliation while submitting applications for driving licence, said Vasanth Kumar Shetty, Administrator of Saanidhya Residential School and Training Centre for the mentally challenged, a

Roshan Peieira from Naravi in Beltangady taluk does not feel guilty on breaking traffic rules by not possessing a two-wheeler licence. His many efforts to get a two-wheeler licence had not yielded any results. Roshan explains helplessly in sign language.

A father of a daughter, who is hearing and speech impaired like Roshan, is planning to approach Bantwal or Puttur Regional Transport Office (RTO) after his daughter’s application for driving licence was rejected by Mangaluru RTO.

These are not stray cases. The applications for two-wheeler licence submitted by many youngsters had been rejected by Mangaluru RTO on the grounds that they suffer from hearing and speech loss, informs Vasanth Kumar Shetty serving as Special Educator and Administrator of Saanidhya Residential School and training centre for the mentally challenged.

These youngsters have to suffer humiliation while submitting the application as well, informs Sajjida whose brother Ashraff works in a garment showroom. Ramesh explains agitatedly, in sign language, that an RTO inspector first laughed and then tore his licence application. Vasanth Shetty hopes to end such discrimination by leading a delegation to district-in-charge Minister U T Khader.

President of the Dakshina Kannada and Udupi district association of differently-abled, Muralidhar Nayak also has plans to meet the DC and the RTO in order to help these youngsters become productive citizens. “There are no hindrances in getting a driving licence,” clarifies in-charge Assistant Regional Transport Officer (ARTO) John B Misquith.

Unlike in the past, applicants should answer the online tests. Misquith says he is aware of the difficulties faced by differently-abled people in getting a licence. He assured that the RTO will facilitate the issuance of licences by conducting a day-long programme exclusively for people suffering from hearing and speech loss. 

What does the law say?

According to activist S B Iyer the hearing impaired earlier were not permitted to take the driving test. The Delhi High Court in 2011 and the Mumbai High Court in 2013 disposing of PILs, permitted the hearing impaired to take driving test.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, in its report to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in 2016, declared that the ‘loss of hearing’ does not impact the ability to drive. But as added precaution, the applicants should take a stringent driving test and display a sign on the vehicle that the driver is hearing impaired.

“Based on the report, the Ministry directed all states and union territories to consider the applications of hearing impaired as per para 2 under section 8(4) of motor vehicles Act, 1988,” Iyer said.

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Driving licence within reach of hearing impaired

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