Deaf man gets CDL in New Mexico

His teachers were not surprised that he passed the test.

A deaf man, Fernando Ramirez-Savon, just earned his Commercial Drivers License in New Mexico.

Ramirez-Savon worked closely with CNM Disability Resource Center in order to comply with the standards required to receive his CDL.

Ramirez-Savon told KRQE, “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.”

Until recently, Ramirez-Savon was not able to qualify for a CDL because of his hearing impairments.

“Back when deaf people couldn’t get the license,  I felt like I was kind of stuck,” he said.

In 2013 the DOT changed the requirements a person has to meet to obtain a CDL to include deaf individuals.

“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.

Ramirez-Savon was required to take all the same tests required by any other truck driver. For legal reasons, while Ramirez-Savon was driving the truck, the interpreter was not allowed in the front seat. Ramirez-Savon was required to drive completely independently.

Wilson and CNM devised a way for Ramirez-Savon to communicate and understand instruction during the CDL test. Ramirez-Savon used an iPad as a specialized rearview mirror.

“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 was driving he could glance over and see what instructions he was getting from the instructor,” said Vardis Gaus, the Truck Driving Chair at CNM.

Ramirez-Savon passed the test. His instructor said he was never late, or ever missed a day of class.

Ramirez-Savon now works for a company out of Miami, Florida.