Thursday, 21 May 2015

Learning to drive: discrimination

Kelly Gorman, Northern Ireland, profoundly deaf since birth and sign language user

Discrimination and driving lessons: MAJOR learning curve! It left me determined to do something for deaf people who want to learn to drive but now I’ve passed my driving test I don’t know what to do next for deaf people who want to learn to drive. We, deaf people, know we face discrimination daily and can’t change the world by ourselves if we don’t always get the support and help!

The real challenge was finding someone who would take me on. I waited a while to begin my driving lessons after passing my theory test as I was away for a bit.

There were quite few negative replies saying they refuse to take me on as their pupil. I only mentioned I’m deaf, most of them didn’t bother to ask me questions such as if I can lip-read or hear using cochlear implant/hearing aids.

Some of them didn't bother to reply back to my emails & text messages. Do the word 'deaf' scare them or what?! Pathetic! They should be ashamed of themselves. I would love to name & shame them! But I’m better than them :)

I never want to take driving lessons and tests ever again. Happy to have passed my 12353456576554 tests(!) Would love to see driving instructors on the road and look them in the eye knowing I'm in my car, having them realising they shouldn't have turned me away and that deaf people CAN drive :)

Trying to book my driving tests were a complete nightmare. I wanted to book them online but wasn't allowed because apparently I 'need' extra time for my deafness. Pfft!

I rang few different people to talk about driving test and trying to book it. I got told many different things by a lot of different people(!) So I complained and asked to talk to their manager/boss. My phone bill was high that month! :) I soon got furious when I read what they said to me and I then ranted to them on the phone, sorry but not sorry!
PS I rang them using my mini com & type talk 

What I got told: If I turn up at the test centre without booking extra time they would turn me away resulting in a fail and a waste of my money, and that I need to have extra time because the examiners would need it for paperwork. I didn't understand that part. I got told more silly stuff. I made sure they knew I was furious at what they were saying to me. So I went on and on about wanting to be equal as hearing people and asked them to explain again why would I need extra time when I didn't ask for it. Sure some deaf people might want it but I didn't want any extra time. I didn't want to be stressed on my driving test day but I ended up being nervous wreck remembering what I've been told on the phone.

I was always confident with my driving but did make silly mistakes on the test because it was horrible not understanding the examiner. Major communication breakdown resulting in me being so distracted and worrying about the examiner. There's not enough deaf aware examiners unfortunately. I wasn't surprised to hear that I failed.

Driving instructors did make me feel like being deaf was hard work! Lost confidence few times that I actually wanted to give up. I'm saying it again: there are not enough deaf aware examiners and instructors. 

During the process of looking around for instructors to passing my test it wasn’t my job to reassure people that I don’t bite and I can drive.

I had to get a car early before passing my test to keep me motivated. Even named my car Snowy haha and just thought of Snowy many times during my driving lessons & test so I didn’t give up. Thankfully I didn’t give up and love driving Snowy around. 

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