Survey and Research Consigned by the National Police Agency on the Relationship Between Safe Driving and Hearing Ability

from April 2003 Issue of Japanese Deaf News, JFD’s monthly newspaper:

Full of Discriminative and Biased Views

“Hearing-Impaired Drivers Are Dangerous to Both People and Cars”

Article 88 of the Road Traffic Law contained a clause saying, “Those who cannot hear are not eligible to receive a drivers’ license”. This clause, disqualifying hearing-impaired persons from acquiring a drivers’ license, was finally abolished in 2001. However, the aptitude test for drivers still requires a hearing test, so that in actual practice, the situation has seen little improvement, even after the revision of the Law. The only ray of hope was the Diet resolution accompanying the enactment of the Law stating that, “(Authorities) should ensure that (actual practices) do not become disqualifying factors”.

We looked forward to the subsequent survey and research, which would lead to the abolition of all discriminative practices. However, this survey was not conducted by an administrative committee, but was consigned to a private research company.

Recently, the results of the study were presented as a report entitled, “FY 2002, Report on the Results of the Survey and Research on the Relationship Between Safe Driving and Hearing Ability, Consigned by the National Police Agency.”

The 168-page report states that opinions of doctors, hearing-aid manufacturers and other specialists lead to the conclusion that hearing-impaired drivers are “dangerous (pose dangers to traffic safety) to both people and cars around them” and that “they should not be encouraged to drive.” The report lacks objective data and is full of prejudice.

As this was a survey consigned by the National Police Agency using the national budget, the faulty contents of the “Report” need to be taken up as a critical issue.

Professionals Hold Outdated Views Contradictory to Current Trends

President Toyoki Ando of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf commented that he was greatly discouraged by the survey report. During the campaign to move the government to revise discriminative laws, the Japanese Federation of the Deaf received signatures from over 2,000,000 people in support of its movement, and position papers were adopted in over 1,000 local assemblies. Public opinion and local administrations expressed their awareness of the fact that “people should not be discriminated or be treated with prejudice because of their disabilities”. It is a pity that doctors and other professionals should hold such outdated views which are contradictory to the current movement toward normalization and the realization of a barrier-free society.

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