I’ve been tossing up lately as to whether or not to sell my car and buy a scooter. There are pros and cons, but I went to a scooter shop on Thursday and was really, really impressed with the customer focus of these people. Nothing was too much trouble. More on that in another post.
While undecided about whether or not I’d actually get a scooter, it seemed very little trouble, while in Joondalup, to go to the licensing centre to get my motorbike learners’ permit.
One of the questions on the application form was related to physical disabilities, with an option for “Other”. I wrote that I am deaf but am a cochlear implant recipient.
When the girl at the counter saw this, she said she’d just check in her files to make sure that wasn’t a problem. There was nothing in her files about deafness or hearing impairment at all but was that enough for her? Of course not. She had to go and make a fuss. She went away to “ask”, and over ten minutes later returned and said I’d have to go to my doctor and get a letter saying he/she thought it was ok for me to drive.
(Bear in mind I’ve had my car licence for 23 years.)
So I wasn’t a happy chappy and I asked to see the documentation that decreed I should do so. I said, if this is engraved in stone then so be it, but if someone has made an arbitrary decision then I want to know about it.
She disappeared and didn’t return for quite some time. We probably waited there at the counter for half an hour or more in total. At one point, her supervisor appeared and asked for my drivers licence number. I started to seethe, because I’d simply asked to see the documentation that said a deaf or hearing-impaired person was unable to drive, not to have it all checked against my own details. What was a general enquiry had suddenly become personal. WTF?
Eventually someone came and said no I didn’t have to go and get a letter from the doctor (well, what a surprise — there was no rule about that and someone quite clearly had made an arbitrary decision, but I’d made a fuss about it, so…) and I simply had to fill out a form stating that I had this physical condition.
There would be no problem getting my learners permit at all.
I don’t know about you but I’m absolutely gobsmacked and horrified that individual staff should apparently decide that someone who is deaf (albeit with cochlear implants) has no brain and is unable to drive, even though all the documentation available to them says it’s not a problem. But because they personally find it a problem, it becomes a problem — unless, of course, the customer complains loudly enough.
Government of Western Australia — the buck won’t stop here. Although it ended well enough (I have my motorbike learners’ permit) this is a clear case of discrimination.