For many young people reaching 17 is a mile stone and learning to drive is an exciting time.
Ellie tells us about her experience of learning to drive and how her deafness didn’t stop her.
Learning to drive
Ellie is profoundly deaf, wears hearing aids, and uses speech and lip-reads.
In her lessons, there were parts she found hard like the clutch control because she couldn’t hear the engine. During her lessons, her instructor sometimes sat in the back to see what Ellie did and didn’t know.
‘That was the hardest part, because my instructor had to sit in the back, write down what I didn’t know and also did a few signs…’
But Ellie could feel it, so she learnt about the clutch control.
But with the right support anyone can learn to drive. ‘I had a really patient driving instructor, he had a hearing loss himself, so I was quite lucky with that’
‘He taught a lot of deaf people before me, so I had quite a lot of recommendations.’
If you’re not sure about where to get lessons, chat with your friends!
Your friends may know of a driving instructor who has good deaf awareness.
Driving written test
The written test for driving can be hard. You have to get a certain mark to pass. But, Ellie had help and worked hard.
When practising for her theory test, Ellie’s dad helped. He helped to go through the Highway Code so that Ellie was able to remember it.
Ellie during the test had extra time to get support when looking at the videos.
See our page about the communication support you can have and how to ask!
But Ellie’s hard work paid off and she passed first time! Well done to Ellie!
Ellie’s top tips and advice are:
‘Before learning to drive, it’s important to research! Look for deaf aware driving instructors in your area, or ones that may know British Sign Language if you use it.
You can meet your instructor before learning to driving to chat about what communication support you need
Help them be deaf aware and what works best for you when driving like hand gestures or direction signs
Look at different lesson costs to see if they are value for money, perhaps even consider instructors who are disability-aware in general.
Before you start, discuss with the instructor about areas you may have difficulty with, for example lipreading or having to watch them to understand what they’re saying/signing.
You can ask your instructor what will be in the lessons ahead of time so you can feel comfortable when driving
Having a lipreading mirror or increased stopping time to go through different sections to make sure you have grasped it can be a big help.
For theory and practical tests, think about getting extra time or a separate room. They may help you concentrate better.
Make sure you let your examiner know about your deafness and ask if your instructor can sit in the back of the car for the exam.
You don’t have to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you are deaf. Find out more from the DVLA
Keep safe on the roads!’