Open Letter to President Mills from Deaf Person

By Johnson Dei-Kusi
By Johnson Dei-Kusi

1/27/2012 11:13:05 PM -

Dear His Excellency President John Evans Mills,

I would like to express dismay at the forms of discrimination that persons with hearing disability (deaf people) are continuously refused granting driving licence by Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authourity (DVLA). As deaf tax payer, I was refused a licence by the authourity to learn driving because of my hearing disability and realised that the staff still discriminated against the deaf people applying for ones. There are many deaf people who have their vehicles in Ghana but face enormous challenges when they applied at the office. Under the Disability Law- Persons With Disability Act 715, 2006, Section 27, a person with a hearing disability has right to own a driving licence after passing driving test and satisfying the conditions.

His Excellency, according to the law, Section 4 (1), the persons with any type of disabilities should not be discriminated by the governmental agencies and may not be neglected when they seek for their needs.

Under the Disability law, Section 7- Access to the Public Services, the public agencies should grant the requests the persons with hearing disability look for.

In the pursuance of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Article 29, Ghanaian governmental agencies shall guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others.

As one of the staff of DVLA Office was aware I am deaf and could not talk, he asked if I could read and write and we wrote note each other. He said that my hearing examination may be required to submit medical report so that it would let him see if I could hear the levels of sound with aid of hearing aids before granting the request after I had showed to the Section of the Act 715, 2006 that a person with hearing disability is allowed to own driving licence.

I told there are many deaf drivers in Africa who could drive on road and see carefully emergency sirens and horns on basis of rearing view-mirrors without hearing any sound and have very good views rather than hearing sounds when driving on the roads.

According to World Federation of Deaf (WFD), there are no known reports that deaf drivers are a threat to other road users in the countries where deaf people are allowed to obtain a driving licence, or that they are involved in more traffic accidents or injuries than the general population. The deaf drivers are better than hearing ones based on respecting the road safety regulations and viewing at rear-mirrors fully on the roads. There are some deaf drivers in Africa who could drive without any traffic accident.

All but 26 countries in the world have allowed people who are deaf to drive as long as they pass the test regardless of the degree of hearing loss. It should not be an impediment for the deaf people to enjoy the right of driving which is a civic of free movement guaranteed by Disability Act. It is not a problem for the deaf people to learn how to drive. They can learn to drive through visual instructions – hand motions, eye contact and visual aids. There are many deaf drivers in world that could drive on road and see carefully emergency sirens and horns on basis of rearing view-mirrors without hearing any sound and have very good views rather than hearing sounds when driving on the roads.

Deaf people are capable of becoming good drivers because they drive safely. Though their sense of hearing is impaired or non-functional, yet their other senses and reactions are naturally trained to be extremely acute which is an advantage over the hearing drivers and, therefore, it is logical to allow them to have legalized driver's licence.

Road accidents among the hearing people have been common even though they can hear and pass the test to get driving licence. Therefore, there is difference between them and deaf people who are still driving without any tangible report of accidents with or without licence.

When deaf people drive, they enjoy a basic privilege they deserve just like anyone else. It also demonstrates that deafness does not have to hinder the quality of life.

If deaf people are allowed to drive, it could decrease prejudice by changing the public's misconceptions about deaf drivers. In turn, decreased prejudices could help eliminate discrimination against deaf drivers in public policy.

The disqualification for driving licence does not rest with the deaf people themselves, but with the environmental and attitudinal barriers of the society and those that govern the system. The same holds true where the deaf people are concerned who is a part of the human diversity as a natural process and also as recognized by the UNO. Although the deaf people are disqualified for holding licence due to poor and congested Ghanaian road conditions, yet the situation can be adjusted with special provisions through legal adaptations, additional rear view mirrors, special signal stickers/labels, public awareness, ban on non-motorized and slow moving stray vehicles from the main and busy roads that are the distinct features created in the rest of the world facilitating an accessible environment for the deaf people to drive safely and smoothly and obtaining driver's licence. Driving cars is not a problem for the deaf people who can drive judiciously, smoothly and safely with the brain instead of the ears.

Disability to hear and unsafe road conditions don't justify disqualification from obtaining licence that contradicts justice and atrophy the concept of accessibility, empowerment and independent life. Legal adaptations and improving road conditions are the way out to enable them to qualify for retaining the civic and legal right of driving.

The “UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” states that national and state governments are obliged to consult with people with disabilities through their representative organizations when developing and implementing legislation and policies to effectuate their rights.

His Excellency, therefore, I would like to inform you that your order is given to DVLA to grant the deaf drivers licence and they should be encouraged to show respect to the persons with hearing disability. If the officials still discriminate against them, they would be forced to face sanction.

His Excellency, I am appealing to you to order DVLA to recruit and employ any interpreter at DLVA so the deaf drivers could get comfortable when they read interpretations and even the signal sticker/ label should be shown with “Deaf Driver (DD)” or “Handicapped (H)” on front transparent glass of all vehicles, etc so police would have to understand the DD or H symbol when emergency is met. There is no problem for DD or H sticker.

Johnson Dei-Kusi
Person with Hearing Disability
Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal Association of the Deaf (LEKMAD)

Teshie-Nungua, Accra
[email protected]