DOT: Get rid of antiquated hearing requirements for truck drivers!

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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.

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 had to pass a hearing test.

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.

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