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Accessible Driving School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

driving school for the deaf
Like many milestones in our lives, getting a driver’s license can come with accessibility challenges for the deaf and hard of hearing. Now, though, states are becoming more aware of addressing these issues and finding solutions for them.

The state of Texas is one that has established a first-of-its-kind driving school for the deaf and hard of hearing. According to CBS Austin, a few years ago Senator Kirk Watson filed Senate Bill 1051 which would create a statewide online’s drive education course specifically for deaf and hard of hearing students. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has passed the bill and released the first-of-its-kind program.

Driving school for deaf and hard of hearing students

The objective of the driving course is to allow deaf and hard of hearing students to participate in the classroom portion. The Driver Education Course is available in American Sign Language. It also contains a transcript and includes voiceovers in English to “ensure accessibility of the highest standards.”

If you wish to partake in the ASL version of the course, it must be taken through a TDLR-licensed driver education school. In order to receive the certificate of completion the course is required to finish the driver’s license application process.

“TDLR is proud to make this driving course available for deaf or hard of hearing students,” TDLR executive director, Brian E. Francis told Click2Houston. “Being able to receive this information in ASL will allow for these students to have the same opportunity as their fellow Texans when taking a driver education course.”

Read more: My Tips for Taking a Driving Test with Hearing Loss

“[The bill would] really help those students be able to have access to the classes and be able to take drivers education,” Texas School for the Deaf Bobbie Beth Scoggins told CBS Austin.

ASL and Drivers Education

Deaf and hard of hearing students can pass a license test without classes run by a teacher who knows ASL. However, it can be much more difficult because for many, English is a second language. For instance, reading the phrase “parallel parking” can be disconcerting as compared with seeing it in ASL.

“With the signs you have to show the movement of the parallel parking and that right there makes so much more sense,” Scoggins said.

Read more: 4 Tips for Driving with Hearing Loss

“I think this bill really will just help so many more students have access,” program specialist Diana Poeppelmeyer said. At the time they had the only driver’s education class in Texas taught by a person who knows sign language. She says there are some that have an interpreter. “An interpreted education is not the same as a direct education.”

Accessible Drivers Education

If your state does not offer a driver’s education course in ASL, Aceable Licensing Courses offers an online course that features a blend of text and multimedia. All videos and animations also come with subtitles. Alternatively, some schools for the deaf offer in-person driver and safety education programs in ASL. We also recommend checking with driving schools in your area to see how they may accommodate your needs.

When it comes to taking your actual test (a written and in-car driving), you are allowed to bring a translator with you. You may also request a certified ASL interpreter.

The state department is required to provide one to be in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. We advise you to contact the DMV office in advance to ensure the interpreter is available for your test.

Author Details
Ashley is a 29-year-old who loves to travel and try new things. She has bi-lateral, severe hearing loss, and wears a Phonak Naída V-SP hearing aid in one ear and has an Esteem implant in the other. She plays soccer for the USA Women’s National Deaf Team. She’s currently traveling the world in pursuit of adventure and perspective while also learning about the deaf and hard of hearing communities in various countries. Her travels can be followed on instagram @ashley5chanel or on her blog