Deaf citizens demand the right to drive

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The Deaf Association of Guyana staged a picketing exercise in front of the Ministry of Public Security on Brickdam, Georgetown Monday morning, demanding that the Government repeal the law which prevents deaf persons from driving in Guyana.

Deaf citizens believe it is a violation of their human rights.

The Traffic Department of the Guyana Police Force does not permit deaf persons to take the driver’s license test.

The Deaf Association of Guyana is asking for an intervention that would allow them to earn a living for themselves and enjoy the social and financial benefits of driving.

Managing Director of the Association, Sabine Mcintosh said there is a problem with upward mobility in Guyana which prevents deaf persons to be treated as equals in society.

Managing Director of the Association, Sabine Mcintosh

“I think the issue is our own feelings, how we were brought up to feel about deaf that they are somehow a little bit less, a little bit inept, a little bit incapable in some unspoken inarticulate way. But really the deaf can’t hear but they can do a hell of a lot of other things,” Ms McIntosh said.

The Managing Director said deaf persons can do much more if given the chance.

Deaf citizens have been relying on their sight all their life and according to research, they may be better drivers.

Ms McIntosh said, “If you attempt to do an analysis of accidents, they are highly any accidents because I didn’t ‘hear’ who turned or I didn’t ‘hear’ a siren. But they are accidents because of your visual acuity”.

With slogans such as ‘Deaf people can drive’ and ‘Equal Rights Now,’ the protesters demanded to be heard.

One of the protesters, Colin Setmeyer with the help of a translator said, “If they expect us to drive and maybe they want us to have mirrors and all that but we know how to do that, we look in our rear views mirrors, but I don’t have a license and the police don’t seem to care.”

Deaf citizens, Jeremiah Williams and Colin Setmeyer

Another protester, Jeremiah Williams made reference to other countries adapting to deaf persons driving.

“Hearing aid is okay but our eyes are much better. In Suriname, they don’t have such requirements. They have a little sign like an ear with an X saying that it’s a deaf person in that car so maybe that would work or some other thing”.

The Deaf Association of Guyana met with the Ministry of Public Security in 2015 but so far, nothing has been done.

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