Monday, January 25, 2010

Govt considering issuing driving licences to deaf

Govt considering issuing driving licences to deaf

New Delhi: Around 5 crore people in India with impaired hearing may soon be permitted to drive. The Central Government is considering issuing driving licences to the hearing impaired and is consulting health specialists on the issue.

The government's move was informed by counsel Jyoti Singh earlier this week to the Delhi High Court.

Informing about the move to a division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, Singh said: "We are consulting health specialists and a study is being carried out as to how hearing impaired disorder can affect driving. Earlier studies show that impaired hearing lessens the sense of judgement while driving."

"Though technical specialists did not agree with us on our move of giving licences to the deaf, we are still trying to consult the health specialists," Singh added.

The Union Road Transport Ministry and Department of Health are presently reviewing the case.

"It's a positive approach. At least the whole thing is now being re-looked at," the bench said.

At present, the Motor Vehicles Act prohibits the deaf from obtaining a driver's licence on the ground that they could be a source of danger to the public.

The court has directed the government to give its final report by February 17.

The court was hearing a public interest petition by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), seeking a direction to quash the requirement of having no hearing impairment for the issuance of a driving licence.

The deaf are allowed to drive all over the world except in 26 countries, including India, NAD said.

Medical experts say those who can hear up to 60 decibels with the use of a hearing aid can be permitted to hold a driving licence for private vehicles, while those with a hearing level of up to 40 decibels with hearing aid can be allowed to drive commercial vehicles.