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Feature Article of Friday, 27 January 2012

Columnist: Dei-Kusi, Johnson

Letter to President Mills from Deaf Person

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 should be 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
deafjohnson@in.com

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