A hearing-impaired man has become the first deaf truck driver to receive his Commercial Driver’s License in New Mexico, fulfilling his lifelong dream.
It happened in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
According to KRQE, Fernando Ramirez-Savon has dreamt of driving trucks for as long as he can remember.
“The reason I wanted to learn to be a truck driver is because when I was young in Cuba, my dad drove trucks. So, he taught me how to do that,” Ramirez-Savon said.
However, for many years Ramirez-Savon was legally unable to pursue his dream, as deaf people were not allowed to become truck drivers.
In 2013, that all changed when the Department of Transportation altered the Commercial Driver’s license requirements, finally allowing deaf people to take the classes and tests needed to acquire a CDL.
“Back when deaf people couldn’t get the license, I felt like I was kind of stuck,” Ramirez-Savon said.
But once Ramirez-Savon was allowed to take the class, he immediately began impressing everybody.
“He was really paying attention. He was one student that was never absent. He was on time every time,” said Vardis Gaus, the Truck Driving Chair at Central New Mexico Community College, where Ramirez-Savon took his classes. CNM frequently works with students with all kinds of special needs.
“We’re actually kind of leading the way and showing that a deaf person can do anything that a hearing person can do,” said Erin Wilson with the CNM Disability Resource Center.
Wilson and Ramirez-Savon worked together to create a way for Ramirez-Savon to communicate with the instructor while driving the truck, all while still complying with safety regulations.
“Legally, the interpreters could not be in the front seat,” Wilson explained.
So, they figured out a way to use technology to make these classes work for people like Ramirez-Savon.
“The iPad that we had was in the truck and was set up in such a way that it looked back in the sleeper area where the interpreter was. It would point the camera at the interpreter so while he [Ramirez-Savon] was driving he could glance over and see what instructions he was getting from the instructor,” continued Gaus.
Ramirez-Savon recently passed his test with flying colors and has already landed a job in Miami, Florida, where he is looking forward to pursuing his dreams.
“It took a lot of support and I just wanted to show that deaf people can do it and I was really excited about that,” Ramirez-Savon said.
“I feel very, very proud that I was able to learn all of this.”