There’s this myth that having the ability to hear plays a role in one’s ability to drive.
Back in April, I posted a blog about learning to drive with hearing loss, and shared the story of my first driving lesson. A few weeks ago, I had my practical driving test.
On the day of my driving test, I was so nervous! My mind was so set on getting everything right, remembering how to do maneuvers and controlling the car, but during my final lesson, I kept making mistakes and doing everything wrong.
Just before I went in the exam, I felt like crying.
During the exam, my instructor sat in the back of the car, with myself and the examiner in the front. The examiner inquired what the best way of communicating with me during the test was. I was a bit annoyed about him asking, because when I booked it online, I specifically told them what support I needed, as I didn’t want any extra stress on the day.
He also questioned the signs he had to use when giving instructions on the route, and because I was too worried about passing the test and I couldn’t remember what they were, I asked him, if he could please talk to my instructor about it.
It took a while during the exam to get used to his ‘sign language’, which he kept doing towards the left window-side of the car, rather than in the middle of the dashboard where I could see his hands. I had to constantly ask for him to repeat, to make sure I knew where I was going and what I was doing.
Eventually, the exam was going well and, bar a few tiny hiccups, it was finally over. The examiner told me that he was pleased to say that I passed my driving test. I was over the moon. I even cried! All that concentration, extra lessons, practice in my own car – it was all worth it. I was worried I was going to fail and I didn’t want to pay for a retake.
I’m so pleased that I passed my driving test first time, and with only one minor fault. I am so happy with the result. I don’t think I would’ve passed if it hadn’t been for my amazing, patient driving instructor. It may have taken double the amount of lesson time, numerous repetition, and explanations, but at least I can now drive.
Despite trying to set up my needs prior to the test, there were some gaps in communication. Here’s what I have learned about taking a driving test with hearing loss:
I wrote an email outlining the support I needed for the test, but I’m not sure it was communicated to the instructor. Make sure you specify the need to have a test administrator who understands your needs.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t entitled to specific resources when preparing for your drivers test. Do some research and talk to your local motor vehicles’ office if you have questions.
It was a great benefit to have my instructor join my drivers’ test, for communication reasons and comfort. Look into whether this is possible when you take your test.
As it happened with me, there was some extra stress and communication issues, despite my planning. Request extra time for your test if possible, so you aren’t stressed due to a time restraint.
If possible, request a testing instructor who understands ASL/BSL or special hand signals that you also know. This will aid in communication during stressful moments that can occur when driving.
I’ve been driving around on my own for a few weeks now, and I love the independence. Can you remember that myth, “D/deaf people can’t drive”? Well, we sure can!
Have you had any similar experiences? If so, please share them in the comments box, below.