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Driving Tests: Deaf Man Accuses DVSA Of Discrimination

March 16, 2022

A deaf man has accused the UK government of discrimination over the problems he faced while trying to sit his Large Goods Vehicle theory test.

David Pool from Nefyn, Gwynedd, said the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) failed to accommodate or book an interpreter on three occasions.

He added: “I feel discriminated against. I think they need to have some deaf awareness.”

The DVSA said the matter would be investigated as a matter of urgency.

Mr Pool said he wanted to be a lorry driver as it is a well-paid job.

But when he attended his first LGV theory test in February 2021, the DVSA failed to book a room big enough to accommodate himself and an interpreter and he was sent home.

The second time he failed his test and on his third booking, Mr Pool said the DVSA contacted him at the last minute to cancel.

On his fourth attempt, he attended the test centre in Bangor and although the DVSA said an interpreter had been booked, they did not show up, so he was sent home.

British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters usually sit with people sitting the exam and translate from English into BSL to ensure they can understand all the information and are not disadvantaged.

They can also provide clarification when needed as written English is not necessarily the first language of someone who communicates through BSL.

This service is booked through the DVSA and applicants are not charged.

Mr Pool said he was refused a refund for his booking and travel costs and was still waiting to receive a new date to sit his theory test.

He added: “They need to know more about deaf people and the education and how they communicate. We face a lot of challenges and barriers.

“When you’re deaf and there is a language barrier there, getting information in your first language is very very difficult.”

https://emp.bbc.co.uk/emp/SMPj/2.44.14/iframe.htmlMedia caption,

This is a signed version of the radio programme, CODA: I’m the thumb in the family

Mr Pool has been receiving support from the charity Centre for Sign Sight Sound (COS).

“I feel the accessibility is there,” Ffion Mon Roberts from COS said.

“But I just feel it’s the attitudes of the organisation – it’s their time in booking that and the lack of awareness.”

Ms Roberts said Mr Pool’s case was one of many that highlighted the barriers deaf people faced when accessing public services.

Mr Pool has contacted his MP, Liz Saville Roberts, who said public bodies such as the DVSA had an obligation to serve everyone fairly.

“The DVSA should be ahead of their game in this and as it’s turned out, it just seems like they are looking for excuses not to provide a service,” she said.

The DVSA apologised for “any distress caused” and said it was committed to providing a “high quality service to everyone”.

But Mr Pool said job opportunities for deaf people were limited and he is now unemployed as he continues his struggle to get his LGV licence after being made redundant at the beginning of the pandemic.

“I want to be a lorry driver, I want to be working, at the moment I am sat at home doing nothing.

“I’ve got children I want to provide for but there’s this barrier.”

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