According to the National Association of Deaf (N.A.D.), India has more than five crore people with hearing impairment. The archaic Motor Vehicles Act prohibits deaf persons from obtaining a driving licence, saying they could be “a source of danger to the public”. However, the High Court said if persons with hearing impairment meet the necessary criteria and pass the driving test, they will have to be given driving licences and allowed to drive.
The order comes in a two-year-old Public Interest Litigation filed by N.A.D.
It is a sad commentary on the state of disability rights in India that for such a basic right, deaf people had to ultimately approach the Court after Government refused to listen to their repeated pleas.
Till now, in India, deaf people were presumed to be incapable of driving! They were debarred from even sitting for a test. This acute discrimination inspite of the fact that deaf people are allowed to drive practically all over the world and not just in U.S.A. or Europe, but our neighbouring Sri Lanka and nearby Thailand and Malaysia!