JIS News

Hearing impaired Jamaicans will soon be able to access facilities for testing and certification to legally acquire driver’s licences.
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank session, Director of the Island Traffic Authority (ITA), Paul Clemetson, explained that the Road Traffic Amendment Regulation of 2005 has made provisions for the hearing impaired to legally acquire driver’s licences.
The Ministry of Transport and Works, through the ITA, has begun to institute the necessary infrastructure that will facilitate the testing and licensing of this disabled group.
Mr. Clemetson said that the hearing impaired were not empowered by law to acquire licences to learn to drive or apply for driver’s licences prior to the provisions of 2005. However, Jamaica is now among 26 countries that are only now commencing arrangements for the testing and certification of this group.
These arrangements include empowering the staff of the ITA, and other relevant organizations, to communicate with them. On February 23, certifying officers and record clerks of the ITA, as well as personnel from the Jamaica Constabulary Force will commence sign language training.
“The police are essential stakeholders, so we have extended to them the privilege of having 10 police personnel trained so they can enforce the law, while the ITA implements the legislation,” he noted.
He said that testing and certification will begin thereafter. The Ministry will defray the training expenses which will cost $1 million.
Seeking to allay the public apprehension, Mr. Clemetson pointed to studies which indicated that the driving process is more visual than auditory.
He said that motorists and others, who are concerned about these persons presenting increased risk within the traffic environment, will have very little to fear.
“We want all Jamaicans to recognize that it is more a perception that persons with disabilities, such as the hearing impaired, will create greater risk within in the traffic environment. Studies indicate that this is not so and, much to the contrary, the hearing impaired are involved in fewer collisions than their colleagues who can hear fully well,” he explained.
To acquire licences in Jamaica, they will have to meet stipulations listed under the amended 2005 Road Traffic Act.
“These individuals will have to provide a certificate from a certified audiologist, indicating the level at which that person can hear,” he informed.
In addition, they will also need to prove to a member of the ITA that he/she has installed in the vehicle a device capable of communicating through a light, or some visible means, the proximity of, as well as the intensity of sound being emitted by a vehicle.
The director urged Jamaicans to accept these drivers, when they are trained and empowered to operate on the roads. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States of America have been granting licences to the hearing impaired.

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