The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) launched a new effort in its ongoing advocacy on behalf of drivers who are deaf and hard of hearing and who wish to obtain Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDLs). The United States Department of Transportation (DOT), through its regulations, has long required individuals seeking CDLs to satisfy Physical Qualification Standards before becoming eligible to receive a CDL.
These Physical Qualification Standards include a requirement that drivers prove they can “first perceive a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid” or “not have an average hearing loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a hearing aid . . .” in order to obtain a CDL. See 49 C.F.R. § 391.41(b)(11). As a result of this regulation, individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing have long been unfairly barred from driving commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce.
In recent months, the NAD met with the DOT and reiterated its long held view that there is no basis for excluding people who are deaf and hard of hearing from obtaining CDLs. Click here to see text of the NAD Letter to the Department of Transportation from December 22, 2010. (see PDF link next line)
In addition to advocating for the complete removal of the hearing requirement, the NAD is focused on helping qualified drivers who would like to operate Class B commercial motor vehicles without airbrakes obtain exemptions from the DOT’s Physical Qualification Standards.
The NAD is currently identifying highly qualified drivers with a strong record of safety who can pave the way for DOT to grant exemptions to drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing. If successfully implemented, this program will allow drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing to obtain the CDL necessary operate Class B commercial motor vehicles without airbrakes and without passing a hearing test. If you are unable to pass the DOT hearing test and would like the NAD to help you apply for an exemption to drive a Class B commercial motor vehicle without airbrakes, please contact us for more information.
Click here for more information about the NAD effort to obtain exemptions for Class B commercial driver’s licenses for deaf and hard of hearing people. (see link next line)