I have been asked many times, whether hearing impaired people, and especially the most severely hearing impaired and deaf people, can and may drive a car. My answer has always been clear: Yes, why not?!
Acquiring the ability to drive is perhaps a bit more complicated, at least in practice, and you have to make good arrangements with the driving instructors, but of course that is possible.
And of course, there are some disadvantages when driving a car being hearing impaired. A deaf colleague of mine often had problems getting started because she didn’t hear the car lamp alarm and sometimes forgot to check if the lights were off.
Even me, it took me a lot of money and effort to get a driver’s license. Frankly, this had not only to do with my hearing, but also with the complexity of traffic. Of course, I couldn’t read the instructor’s face, otherwise I would have had to turn my head in his direction all the time, and that would certainly not have benefited the traffic. But for me personally, this was not the biggest challenge. You have to watch out for so many things while driving a car that I didn’t manage to do that so quickly. Some people have it by nature, some of them, like me, just don’t.
I also started driving at a later age. At first, I didn’t have enough money and no car. Later no car and I didn’t want to become a Sunday driver because I didn’t have enough practice.
Only when I needed a car for my job because I had to visit clients at the workplace, it did make sense for me. I will spare you my driving licence career, but I can tell you this: I was once very proud of myself when I had the desired paper in my hands. I don’t like to think back on the first few weeks without a driving instructor. Beginner mistakes and stress became my part. And my husband’ s: he was so brave and kind as to accompany me to work for the first two weeks and then go to his work by train himself afterwards. He risked his life, but luckily everything went well. Afterwards I drove quite a few kilometers on the meter, I survived storms, traffic jams and other adventures. I only got a few speed fines for a few kilometres driving too fast. I don’t like driving fast, but I like to move it, honestly!
It has happened to me a few times that I didn’t hear the Martinshorns of the police or the ambulance or heard them very late. But I saw them in the rearview mirror and reacted accordingly. And that’s exactly what we, the hearing impaired, always do: we hear and compensate much more with our other senses. In case of driving, especially with the eyes.
Since I’ve been in Switzerland, I hardly drive a car anymore. Although I don’t like it, I didn’t try so hard to get my drivinglicense for nothing, and now I get out of practice, but the public transport is so good that you don’t normally need the car. Only for practical reasons I rent a car every now and then when I visit my mother. Then I realize that you don’t forget how to drive a car, but you have to renew the “feeling”. For someone who has already driven 220 km/hour on the German motorway, this is no problem.