Driving Skill from a Deaf-Blind point of view

Skills learned and skilled not learned is something that I am interested in tell you about.

As a person with a rare syndrome, CAPOS, with includes ataxia, deafness, blindness, among other fun things, I never learned to drive.

Now, driving is not just one skill, but a set of skills.

Let us examine: you need vision, obviously, to see the road, people, pets, pests, cars, cyclists, and, especially in Sudbury, potholes.  A good driver must also see the light, such as traffic lights, tail lights, flashing lights.  It is a good skill also to master using the three mirrors, or more, that allow the driver to see behind, and to the side.  Vision, thus the skill of observation, are vital to driving. If you can’t see, and glasses can’t help, you are best to stick with the local transit.

Drivers must also use their hands, the second skill set: steer the vehicle they are driving, shift gears, turn on wipers, especially in Vancouver, lights, adjust the volume up or down from AC/DC to Kenny G and back up to concert hall loud for Pink Floyd’s Money (or whichever rocks your world), turning the heat on or off, adjusting mascara, or combing hair, flipping the bird, et cetera. Eye hand coordination is a must!

And, naturally, one must also use their feet, to squash the brakes, or to ram the gas.  How much, how little is based on experience.

Hearing is not essential to driving,
Deaf drivers are everywhere and are no more dangerous than an cheetah in a Veyron on the German Autobahn.

Those are all physical skills, seeing, hand coordination, feet coordination.

The mental skills are just as important!

Judging distances between the back of the Ford Focus in front of you and your front bumper, the distance to stop when the amber light starts flashing, judging if that twit just cut you off and whether retaliation is necessary, judging how close lady in her Chrystler 300 is behind you, judging what kind of dog that is… Judging plays an important part of driving.

You also need skills in split second decision making!  If you didn’t see the Ford Focus in time and you quickness is rusty, you might be wasting 20 minutes passing insurance information when you would rather be at the movies!  Another example of fast thinking would be when a squirrel or opossum decides to run across the road, or a chicken, would you be able to stop in time, or would you be having Squirrel al a mode for dinner?

We all hear about driving defensively, which means to pay attention to everything and anticipate what would happen if some kids are playing too close to the road, if some blind guy with a open mickey of rye wanders aimlessly out of the parking lot looking for a bus stop (I have done this, sans the mickey), if a dog runs across the road, if a light changes, if you see red flashing lights in your mirror.  Anticipation is vital!

I also want you to think about Divergent thinking which is a way of thinking that used creativity to come up with different answers.

Drivers, I feel, should have this skill.  It would save a lot of time and energy. Drivers who think outside of the box, going around the block instead of pushing through traffic to go one way, should be encouraged!

Now coming back to me, have I driven a car?  Once. A Go-Kart? a few times.  My first time, and so far, last time driving a car was in the mid 80s when I drove our junky Ford Escort 300 yards, with my dad trying to demonstrate how, but I didn’t show interest.

I’ve driven a Go-Kart a few times and the most memorial time was when I went camping with good friend Monique and her boyfriend Gordon.  Monique was Deaf-Blind as well.  We had the track to ourselves.  Monique was first, I and Gord passed her the first lap easily.  we then proceeded to catch up to her again!  I didn’t pass her a second time!  Gord and I finished our five laps, and waited for Monique to finish hers, but she didn’t see the guy flagging her down and she was “mugged” by 4 guys forcing her to the side lines!  She couldn’t see that well!

Sadly she passed on in 2005, damn you cancer!

Returning to the point of this blog, being unable to drive, I do not have the various skill outlined above, namely the vision skills.  And now that my vision seems to flaunting, I have afterimages, and I usually, through not always, see something through one eye, but both are working just fine.

I do “drive” scooters at the mall or big box stores, and so far I haven’t hit anyone.  I am very considerate and watchful.

I wonder if other Deaf-Blind folks feel the same way?

If I were to drive, I’d probably bump your car, push the gas instead of the brake, misjudge the distance between your Neon and my Camero, oh yeah, I’d probably turn left when I want to go right and, last but not least, I’d probably run over your dog as I tried turn up the radio for AC/DC’s The Jack!

 

 

 

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