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FMCSA considers CDLs for hearing impaired

Jill Dunn | October 14, 2011

For the first time, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is accepting applications for exemptions from CDL hearing requirements from candidates who are deaf or hard of hearing.

In July, the National Association of the Deaf submitted applications on behalf of 21 drivers seeking exemption from this portion of the CDL Physical Qualification Standards for interstate driving with and without airbrakes.

Ultimately, the association seeks to have the hearing requirement rescinded.

NAD believes requiring applicants to “first perceive a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the use of a hearing aid” is an invalid hearing assessment. Reliable means exist for hearing challenged drivers to receive auditory information visually, the association argues.

Canada permits deaf and hard of hearing drivers to possess CDLs, it adds.

The NAD will submit applications to the FMCSA for qualified drivers with hearing impairments. More information is available at

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