The Zambia Deaf Youth and women (ZDYM) has bemoaned the continued tendency by Zambian authorities to give driving licences to deaf people.
Speaking of behalf of ZDYM, Frank Musukwa deafness does not in any way limit a person’s ability to drive a car or other vehicles.
Musukwa argued that a deaf driver does not therefore constitute a risk for safe traffic and pedestrian movement ‘what so ever since there is no evidence that deaf drivers due to their in ability to hear are involved in more car accidents, or are at any bigger risk on the road than those with normal hearing.’
The ADYM youth activist noted with sadness that ‘since most deaf persons lack access to driving permits in Zambia, when deaf persons are denied access to driving licenses and permits, it restricts the already limited employment prospects open to deaf people, and deprives them of the mobility that gives them access to essential services’.
Musukwa said that ‘many deaf persons work as car technicians or mechanics or are employed by transport companies. As a practical example, deaf car mechanics can identify defects by sense of touch. Having a driving license is a necessity for these jobs’.
He said according to studies conducted in Finland as well as in several countries across the world, it is well known fact; deaf drivers have been involved in less car accidents compared to the average driver with no hearing impairments.
According to Musikwa, the research also notes that the ability to hear is not necessarily the only sense that can permit safe driving.
He said it is possible, for example, to check by sense of touch whether the car horn functions or not, and that it is possible to use visual means during driving, and seeing the ambulance or police vehicles’ lights flashing with the help of the hind mirrors.’
He explained that most adaptive technology of today has enhanced driving with the availability of video relay machines that can be connected in the car in such a way that the driver can monitor the hind of the car, the surrounding as well as the safety of the car when he/she is driving.
He said in countries like Uganda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tunisia and European Union countries deaf people are able to obtain driving licenses while in other, such as in some parts of Asia, Arab region and Africa, deaf people are not allowed drive at all.
‘Instead of introducing restrictive measures, the authorities and driving schools should make it certain that deaf persons receive driving lessons in sign language, which is the language a deaf person uses as his or her first language,’ he said.
Musukwa through ZDYW called upon the ministry of justice and transport to demonstrate strong leadership in protecting, defending and promoting human rights of persons with disabilities as enshrined in universal human rights declaration, national constitutional laws and united convention on the rights of persons with disabilities by placing up mechanisms to reduce the restrictions deaf people are facing as they strive to enjoy their fundamental human rights of which free movement such as in form of legalized driving is inclusive.