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How Can I Get My Driver's License?
Having a driver's license can make a big difference in the life of a disabled person. It greatly increases independence in your social life,
the search for employment and many other joys and necessities of life. You gain the freedom to go whereever you want, whenever you want.
Unfortunately, advances have not yet been made to make it possible for every person with a disability to drive. Therefore, the first step towards getting your driver's license is to find out what types of accomodations are available for different types of disabilities. Some of the adaptations include:
Panaramic Rear View Mirrors
Autminder - Emergency alert device that flashes lights and makes high pitch sounds when emergency lights come on.
Low-No Effort Steering
Right-Hand turn signals
Electric Gear Selector
Bioptics - A small telescope attached to a blind person's glasses.
The next step is to contact a specialist in this field who can conduct your physical and cognitive evaluations and train you in the use of the equipment. They have first-hand experience in vehicle modification and can guide you through the process. My suggestion would be to contact the Department of Rehabilitation Services in your state, first. They provide driving evaluations and training, funding for the modifications and funding resources for the vehicle, and will advocate for you in anything else necessary for you to start driving. Other resources who provide some of these services are listed under Resources on this page.
In your evaluation they will test your visual and mental skills, your physical function, reaction time as well as your actual driving performance. Based on these results it is determine whether you are able to drive independently, what if any adaptive driving equipment may be needed, and whether you require further driver training.
Next, you will have to take the learners permit exam. Once you have passed you will go out on the road in the evaluators modified car to practice driving and prepare for your driving exam. Once the instructor thinks you are ready your exam will be scheduled and the exam will be taken using the instructors vehicle. Your license, issued by the MVA, will be the same but will have any restrictions listed on the back.
It must be said, however, that this is a lengthy process that can take 1-2 months to be completed. This allows time for all evaluations to be done and driving and equipment training to be completed. All of this must be completed before any funding can be offered to you and before the vehicle can be modified. But dont be discouraged, once you have completed the process the benefits are endless.
New Graduate School for Global Inclusion and Social Development of Persons with Disabilities - UMass