Driving as a Deaf/hard of hearing Teen
Your new driving skills are an accomplishment!
One day your teen may encounter a need to communicate with the police. When one parent had an accident recently, her child’s equipment went flying out of the car window, so the child was unable to answer some questions from the police and later the ambulance. If your teen is alone, you might worry about how they will communicate.
The Driver Visor card is one thing that can help you. Kept in the car, it is ready to be used anytime.
We encourage teens to: Be polite and keep your movements slow; keeping both hands on the wheel as much as possible.
Indicate with one hand that you are deaf/hard of hearing (point to ear). Ask for permission to reach up to get card.
Then use the card to indicate that you are deaf/hard of hearing, how you communicate, and that you should have a sign language interpreter or other accommodations.
The teen and the police officer can use the card as a support to communicate about an accident, license and registration, and more as needed.
Role play with your student driver about a variety of situations in the car. What will they do when friends want to drive fast, take too many passengers, or take a kid for a ride on a skateboard behind the car (it has happened). What might they do if pressured to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
Test runs around the neighborhood to complete errands for you might be another idea to get more functional driving in. Driving schools often don’t know how to support deaf/hard of hearing students. It’s another area for advocacy under the ADA – Private organizations.
If you are hesitating about whether your deaf/hard of hearing teen can drive, know that Deaf/hard of hearing drivers are no more at risk than hearing drivers, and in fact, often use peripheral vision better than hearing peers. Of course, all drivers are at risk if driving while texting, eating, and otherwise distracted, and deaf drivers are no exception.