Deaf Truck & Bus Drivers
Did you know that there were no Deaf commercial truck drivers before 2012? Anyone wanting to drive a commercial truck or passenger bus must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates CDLs. And until 2012, the DOT required that anyone who wanted to become a truck driver to pass a hearing test to receive a CDL.
Those who could not pass the hearing test were not eligible to get a CDL.
In 2012, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) filed a request with the DOT asking to remove the hearing test requirement for CDLs. The DOT did not grant that request, but did decide to set up a waiver process instead of removing the hearing test requirement.
In 2013, the DOT granted waivers to the first group of 38 Deaf Truck Drivers. Today, there are 618 Deaf Truck Drivers, and counting!
But the waiver system still has problems. Not only is it an extra, unnecessary step, but Deaf people who want to become Truck Drivers have to wait longer and longer than ever to go through the process. Waivers currently take up to one year to be granted, a year in which the Deaf person is unable to work as a truck driver, even if they have all of the necessary training.
And the DOT’s waiver process doesn’t include Class C CDLs — the kind you need to drive a passenger bus. This is because the DOT decided that passenger bus drivers still need to be able to hear — even though there’s demand for Deaf passenger bus drivers, such as at Deaf schools.
We need to shine a bright spotlight on this injustice and pressure the DOT to revisit the NAD’s original request — to eliminate the hearing test requirement entirely.
Want to support Deaf truck drivers? Sign the petition here!
The biggest issue I would like to see changed is our ability to get hearing waivers. Because of the LONG and tiring wait to get the hearing waiver, many lose interest in getting involved in the industry. This is setting us back. Older drivers are now retiring, and this is our opportunity to step in and make a change, due to the shortage of drivers and the great demand. We would make awesome replacements for the retirees.
My hope is that the DOT develops better standard waiver system for deaf truck drivers nationwide, modeled after the FAA. It is easier to be a deaf pilot than it is to be a deaf truck driver!