The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has praised the government for introducing the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Authority’s (DVLA) policy for training and testing of drivers with disabilities.
This is the first time Ghana is implementing a policy that would allow people with disabilities to obtain driving licenses after completing the processes that require a person to be assessed, certified, and issued a license.
In an interview, Mr. Juventus Duorinaah, Executive Director of GNAD, told the Ghana News Agency that the association and the disability community were overjoyed that another barrier to disability rights’ inclusion in Ghana had been overcome.
On February 22, 2023, the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, in collaboration with the National Council on Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), launched the DVLA policy for training and testing drivers at Ghana’s second National Disability Summit.
The policy is seen as the result of several years of advocacy by disability stakeholders, with GNAD playing a key role.
Mr. Duorinaah said it was consistent with the Persons with Disabilities Act (715) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
These are built on the principles of respect for diversity and inclusiveness, nondiscrimination, as well as full and effective participation, and disability mainstreaming.
“The overall goal of the Policy for Training and Testing of Drivers with disabilities is to eliminate discrimination in the acquisition of a driving license by persons with disabilities,” he said.
He provided some background to the DVLA policy, noting that Ghana, like other countries, has rules and regulations governing commercial and private vehicle operation.
However, PWDs had been denied the right to participate in the processes of assessment and issuance of a driving license.
He said over 470,737 people with various degrees of hearing loss could not obtain a driver’s license because there was no policy for training and testing drivers with hearing loss.
“The launch of the policy is therefore welcome news for the deaf community, as it will provide a regulatory framework for the DVLA to test, train, and issue driving licenses for potential drivers with disabilities,” Mr. Duorinaah said.
“It would also help law enforcement agencies ensure road safety, he said, emphasizing that “the policy is a step in the right direction as it will go a long way to promote social inclusion for deaf people.”
It would increase their mobility and provide opportunities for social participation.
“While we express our sincere gratitude to the government and the DVLA, the GNAD would like to take this opportunity to encourage other state institutions to follow the DVLA’s example and create non-discrimination policies that would facilitate equal access to public services for people with disabilities in accordance with the UNCRPD.”
He urged the Ministry of Local Government to collaborate with the Ghana Health Services and other relevant agencies to develop an all-inclusive policy ensuring that all metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies employ qualified sign language interpreters to provide services for deaf people in hospitals or healthcare centers, as well as at national and local events.
“GNAD is thankful and congratulates the DVLA, Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, Ministry of Roads, National Council for Persons with Disabilities, and Danish Deaf Association, among others, for their ongoing assistance,” he added.
Mr Yaw Ofori-Debrah, Chairman of NCPD, noted that the world had changed and disability was no longer an inability, but what was needed was a conducive environment and the right policies to build an inclusive society that respected the rights of people with disabilities.
“The road traffic is now allowing persons with disabilities to use it not only as passengers but also as operators,” he said, praising the government for introducing the DVLA policy to allow PWDs to use the road equally.
He also applauded successive governments for their roles in ensuring Ghana had disability policies such as the inclusive education policy and the DVLA policy, among others.
He urged duty bearers to ensure the successful implementation and compliance of disability policies, as well as to encourage public cooperation in working with state agencies to ensure road user safety.
He also urged disability organisations and relevant government entities to implement public education programmes on the new DVLA policy for training and testing disabled drivers in order to ensure effective implementation.