As you can probably imagine, being deaf is a huge impairment to driving; can a person whom is unable to hear honks fit to roam our streets? Can a deaf person drive in Malaysia? The answer is in the affirmitive, according to this brochure by Malaysia's Ministry of Health, one would simply have to display the disabled logo on their vehicle. According to Action on Hearing Loss, a British organisation that provides services to the deaf population, over 10 million people in Great Britain suffer from some form of hearing loss. By 2031, that number is expected to reach 14.5 million. Whether you were born deaf or your hearing has declined with age, you are not alone. For seniors, hearing loss is a common affliction. The symptoms tend to reveal themselves over time, and many people don’t realise they have difficulty hearing. Not hearing correctly when driving can compromise your safety as well as the safety of those around you. Fortunately, losing your hearing does not mean you have to give up driving.
Regulation of orang kurang upaya (oku)
Government regulation when it comes to disabled persons have generated some controversy :-
- New regulations by JPJ causing hardship to OKU drivers trying to renew their license; in the year 2014, OKU drivers were asked to make repeated hospital visits to confirm their condition of disability
- More recent regulations requiring OKU drivers to undergo a medical checkup every year before renewing their license, have sparked a protest from OKU drivers
Hearing Loss Warning Signs
Because hearing loss usually happens gradually, many people fail to notice the warning signs. There are several hallmark signs that indicate your ears are not as sharp as they should be:
- · Family members constantly complain that you listen to the radio or television too loudly
- · Sirens and other loud noises sound muted and no longer bother you
- · You must strain to hear conversations occurring next to you
- · You regularly ask people to repeat themselves when they are speaking to you
- · You have difficulty hearing car horns while driving
- · You often ask people to turn up the volume on their phone speaker during telephone conversations
Hearing Loss and Driving: Common Issues
Learning to drive as a deaf person requires modifying your habits and behaviour. For people born deaf, this tends to come quite naturally. For individuals who suffer from hearing loss brought about by age, this process usually takes practice and persistence. Many deaf people struggle with the same common issues.
People who drive manual vehicles typically rely on the sound of the engine as an indicator for switching gears. Because they cannot hear the engine, deaf drivers must learn to pay attention to the car’s vibrations.
Meredith Melnick of Time magazine reports that deaf people enjoy better vision than their non-deaf counterparts. When the brain loses one sense, it compensates by endowing the remaining senses with heightened abilities. Because they possess superior peripheral vision and an increased ability to recognise movement, deaf people are more likely to notice emergency vehicles and see sirens flashing than the hearing population.
Obtaining a Driver’s License
In order to be registered as an O.K.U driver in Malaysia, you will need to :-
- Pay for license fees for disabled motorists, which is at a flat rate of RM 2 per year
- Get a free driving test, driving test fees for disabled persons have been abolished
- Go to a government hospital's orthopedic department and obtain a medical report, confirming your condition
- Get lessons in an automatic transmission car; OKUs in Malaysia areonly allowed to learn and be tested in an automatic car
- Attend 5 hours of Driver's Ed, also known as K.P.P. (Kursus Pendidikan Pemandu) course, sit for the Highway Code Test which is computerised, and attend a 6-hour theory course
- Use a modified vehicle to cater to your disability
Being hard of hearing doesn’t have to slow you down. With a little extra preparation and dedication, deaf drivers can experience the freedom of the open road.