How to Navigate a Driving Test with Hearing Loss

Before we dive into this, let me share a little story with you:

“Turn left?” I ask, as my hands grip the steering wheel, knuckles white. The cool, fall air coming through the open window in the driver’s seat ruffles my hair.
Oscar, my driving instructor, sighs in exasperation and raises his feeble hands from his lap to point.
“No, no, turn-” 
The wind picks up, making an almost roaring sound against the cochlear on my left ear and the rest of his sentence fades away.
“What?” I turn my head to face him.
His eyes widen, and he presses the brakes on his side of the car. My body jolts forward in the seat.
“You almost ran the stop sign!” His hoarse voice whispers. 
I turn my head back forward, and sure enough, there was the stop sign that I didn’t see.

That was my first lesson with my driving instructor, Oscar. It was also the first time I’ve ever been in a car. Poor Oscar. Thankfully, after a couple more lessons with him, I was able to figure out how to best navigate my hearing loss and driving with an instructor beside me. I took what I learned to my driving test, and want to share those lessons with you.

Lesson #1: Do a Test Drive

Go to the location where your driving test will take place, and do a test drive in the area around it. Take note of things that might make it hard to hear - such as nearby crowds, construction sites etc.

Lesson #2: Tell the Examiner About Your Hearing Loss

If you end up having to ask them to repeat their instructions, they will know it’s because you didn’t catch them the first time around. Having that transparency will make sure that they will not penalize you for asking for repeat instructions. They will penalize you if you’re a bad driver though.

Lesson #3: Practice Driving

This lesson could apply to anyone taking their driving test, but if you have hearing loss, make note of what could help you hear better in the car. This could consist of turning down the music, having no open windows etc. Also, the extra practice can help eliminate some of the nerves that you could have on test day.

Back to blog